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Encyclopedia > Assertiveness

Assertiveness is a trait taught by many personal development experts and psychotherapists and the subject of many popular self-help books. It is linked to self-esteem and considered an important communication skill. Look up trait in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Personal development (also known as self-development, self-improvement or personal growth) comprises the development of the self. ... Psychotherapy is an interpersonal, relational intervention used by trained psychotherapists to aid clients in problems of living. ... Though the term self-help can refer to any case whereby an individual or a group betters themselves economically, intellectually or emotionally, the connotations of the phrase have come to apply particularly to psychological or psychotherapeutic nostrums, often purveyed through the popular genre of the self-help book. ... In psychology, self-esteem or self-worth is a persons self-image at an emotional level; circumventing reason and logic. ... For the Bobby Womack album, see Communication (1972 album). ...

As a communication style and strategy, assertiveness is distinguished from aggression and passivity. How people deal with personal boundaries; their own and those of other people, helps to distinguish between these three concepts. Passive communicators do not defend their own personal boundaries and thus allow aggressive people to harm or otherwise unduly influence them. They are also typically not likely to risk trying to influence anyone else. Aggressive people do not respect the personal boundaries of others and thus are liable to harm others while trying to influence them. A person communicates assertively by not being afraid to speak his or her mind or trying to influence others, but doing so in a way that respects the personal boundaries of others. They are also willing to defend themselves against aggressive incursions. In psychology and other social and behavioral sciences, aggression refers to behavior that is intended to cause harm or pain. ... This article is about the emotion. ...



Assertive style of behavior is to interact with people while standing up for your rights. Being assertive is to one's benefit most of the time but it does not mean that one always gets what he/she wants. The result of being assertive is that 1) you feel good about yourself 2) other people know how to deal with you and there is nothing vague about dealing with you.

Assertive people

Assertive people have the following characteristics[citation needed]:

  • They feel free to express their feelings, thoughts, and desires.
  • They know their rights.
  • They have control over their anger. It does not mean that they repress this feeling. It means that they control it for a moment and then talk about it later in a logical way.
  • They have a good understanding of feelings of the person they are communicating with.

(The above information is not particularly accurate)


A popular technique advocated by assertiveness experts is the Broken record technique.[citation needed] This consists of simply repeating your requests every time you are met with illegitimate resistance. The term comes from vinyl records, the surface of which when scratched would lead the needle of a record player to loop over the same few seconds of the recording indefinitely. However, a disadvantage with this technique is that when resistance continues, your requests lose power every time you have to repeat them. If the requests are repeated too often it can backfire on the authority of your words. In these cases it is necessary to have some sanctions on hand. A gramophone record, (also phonograph record - often simply record) is an analog sound recording medium: a flat disc rotating at a constant angular velocity, with inscribed spiral grooves in which a stylus or needle rides. ... Edison cylinder phonograph from about 1899 The phonograph, or gramophone, was the most common device for playing recorded sound from the 1870s through the 1980s. ...

Another technique some suggest is called Fogging, which consists of finding some limited truth to agree with in what an antagonist is saying.[citation needed] More specifically, one can agree in part or agree in principle.

Negative inquiry consists of requesting further, more specific criticism.[citation needed] Negative assertion however, is agreement with criticism without letting up demand.

I statements can be used to voice one's feelings and wishes without expressing a judgment about the other person or blaming one's feelings on them. An I-statement is a statement that begins with the word I. It is frequently used in an attempt to be assertive without putting the listener on the defensive. ...


Gandhi's struggle for India's independence, along with the communication strategy and actions he used for this, are a good example of assertiveness. He used a people movement which he called "Sathyagraha" which used non violent means to achieve his objective. He kept communicating the Indians' right to rule themselves to the British, immaterial of what the British thought about Indians. Gandhi was sent to jail several times and in many cases was asked to pay a fine for opposing British rule. He never agreed to pay any fine, saying that he had the right to say what he thinks is correct. After several decades of this struggle, India became independent.


Several research studies have identified assertiveness training as a useful tool in the prevention of alcohol use disorders.[citation needed]


  • Smith, M. J. (1975). When I say no, I feel guilty. New York: Bantam Books.
  • Bower, S. A. & Bower, G. H. (1991). Asserting Yourself: A Practical Guide for Positive Change. 2nd ed. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley
  • Robert E. Alberti and Michael L. Emmons (1992). Your Perfect Right : A Guide to Assertive Living. 6th ed. San Luis Obispo, CA: Impact Publishers

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Assertiveness training Information on Healthline (975 words)
Assertiveness is a response that seeks to maintain an appropriate balance between passivity and aggression.
The original association of assertiveness training with the women's movement in the United States grew out of the discovery of many women in the movement that they were hampered by their inability to be assertive.
Assertiveness training typically begins with an information-gathering exercise in which participants are asked to think about and list the areas in their life in which they have difficulty asserting themselves.
Assertiveness in communication results in confident self-expression. (733 words)
Assertiveness is a skill in expressing your thoughts, ideas and feelings confidently and precisely.
One of the easiest ways to learn to develop assertiveness is to model a person who already has the skill and able to produce the same results repeatedly.
Applying appropriate assertiveness to all your interactions is the most effective approach to creating a successful, and prosperous, career.
  More results at FactBites »



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