Be assertive, not offensive

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Penina is a young woman who recently got a job in a Multi-national company as a graphic designer. She designs illustrations for the company’s communication channels, including brochures, posters and whatever in on the website.

Although Penny loves her new job, she is faced with one problem: the ever-growing list of responsibilities. Her supervisor, Marie, has been with the Organisation for over ten years. Marie continuously allocates new roles to the newbie, even though they are not included in Penina’s job description.

As a result, Penny spends longer hours running non-related errands than she does at her desk. With each passing day, she gets home more tired and less fulfilled with the work; a situation which would have been better handled if she were assertive.

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Assertiveness is the ability to express your views and needs effectively and clearly, usually without the intention to hurt the feelings of others.  It’s generally saying, “I believe in me”, without apology, but without offending.

All human beings have eight assertive rights, according to authors Charles Jastrow and Karen Kirst-Ashman in their book Understanding Human Behaviour and the Social Environment. These are:

  1. express ideas and opinions openly and honestly
  2. be wrong – everyone makes mistakes
  • direct and govern one’s own life – taking responsibility of one’s actions
  1. defend self without unwarranted anxiety and make decisions that are good for oneself
  2. not to be liked by everyone – after all, you can’t like everyone either
  3. make requests and refuse them without feeling guilty
  • ask for information if you need it
  • decide not to exercise your rights – e. one can choose not to be assertive

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Being assertive has an upside – you’re not likely to be swayed, but are able to treat others’ opinions with respect.

How can you tell if you are unassertive? Use the checklist below will help rate yourself:

  • Have trouble saying NO – unable to turn down a request even when constrained
  • are reliable / dependable
  • run everybody’s errands, sometimes at the expense of your own
  • can easily be compelled to sacrifice for the good of others
  • are concerned with what people will say / society’s outlook on issues
  • easily experience fatigue and burn out

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So, if you want to become more assertive:

  • say something and mean it; people will take you more seriously
  • build a strong, positive belief in your capabilities
  • celebrate your achievements
  • find time to engage in activities that you are good in
  • avoid situations that unnecessarily injure your self-esteem
  • have a sense of humor
  • cultivate a relationship with God

An assertive person communicates with sincerity, comes off as trustworthy and is generally liked and accepted. Who doesn’t want that?

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