The concept of assertiveness is something I believe a lot of us struggle with. Many of us associate assertiveness with bossiness, or a need to be controlling, and this association has unfortunately given assertiveness a bad reputation over time.
A quick Google search of the term defines it as exhibiting a confident and/or forceful personality. I agree with the confidence aspect, but I think forceful is the wrong word to use as it, too, implies that being assertive is negative.
I like to think of assertiveness as honesty in a way. To me, being assertive means not only being confident, but further, having the ability to let others know how we feel about a particular circumstance. I like to compare assertiveness to being down to earth, or telling it like it is, and not beating around the bush or softening the blow for someone else’s sake.
I realize that sounds a bit harsh, but that’s ultimately what assertiveness involves; the ability to be stern with others to communicate a message or thought towards a certain scenario. It doesn’t mean being a bitch or an ass in order to get what we want, but rather, being able to be firm with our thoughts and decisions for our own benefit.
Being assertive definitely isn’t a bad thing, and it’s actually something that can tremendously benefit people suffering from anxiety, as I learned in my group therapy sessions. People with anxiety sometimes give in to the requests and wants of others due to their fear of speaking their mind and coming across as rude, but assertiveness can be used as a tool to better understand the importance of recognizing our own needs and wants as opposed to sweeping them aside to please others.
Assertiveness is a useful tool, in my opinion, and I find it a little disappointing that so many of us misinterpret what it actually means, and further, the positives it can lead to.