In many cultures assertive behaviour is misunderstood as aggressive behaviour because it is not the usual way that people interact with each other. It’s not something that people are taught in school.
It's not the way that people generally behave toward each other. People tend to be either passive or aggressive, and so they play their roles accordingly.
Yet, interestingly in the Western world there is an often unstated expectation within society that regardless of how we used to interact in our ‘home’ culture : whether we bowed, nodded , averted our eyes or whatever, people expect that we’re going to make eye contact, smile, look and act confident, and that we know how to speak up for our rights. We’re also expected to express your anger and frustration in healthy and productive ways.
Often people upon arriving from other parts of the world have no idea what life is going to be like in their new country. When they realize what it is like : that initially their dreams may be put on hold, their family life may suffer, their social skills may be lacking in building respectful relationships with teammates at work and people they have to deal with in a professional environment, they may feel their lives spinning out of control.
Coming to this part of the world and feeling out of control tends to lead people to behave in more passive or aggressive ways. It takes time for people to get adjusted, get on their feet, get a job, learn the system, and to feel part of mainstream society.
Passive traits manifest in somebody perhaps being depressed and just seeming to be unable to cope with their situation. Passive people are often lacking in motivation, say yes to everything and are unable to fulfill expectations of others. This may lead them to run and hide from people in their relationship circles. They run and hide from the landlord because they didn’t make the rent and they don’t know how to tell the landlord that they don’t have the money yet or to ask for more time; they also hide from coworkers, friends and even family.
Aggressive people may abuse their partners and children, and alienate family, friends and coworkers. Sometimes anger and frustration are taken out on loved ones and abuse happens; sometimes people may lose their job because of being aggressive at work or picking a fight. And sometimes as a result of abuse, there is family breakdown where the aggressive person has to leave and start their life all over.
In the midst of our lives crashing down, we realize I hate this life! My life sucks and I’m a failure! I want to change! My relationships are a mess, I don’t have any goals and dreams that I’m achieving, and I don’t know what I want! Or maybe I knew what I wanted and I didn’t get it, and I’m frustrated, and I’m angry.
Assertiveness helps in that
1)people begin to develop a relationship with themselves
2) They develop assertive boundaries.
3)They start setting goals and creating a plan because all of the sudden they start realizing how important they are, that their goals and dreams matter! They care for their future.
4)They develop a proactive rather than a reactive approach to life people and situations.
5) They deal with their anger and frustration in a healthy and productive way.
6) They address conflict instead of running away from conflict.
7)They build healthy relationships with others.
8) It helps them to become their more authentic self.
Assertiveness is a foundational lifeskill that we all need to develop and begin to implement in our lives.
It’s about empowerment. When we operate at a level of respect for ourselves and for all, we have far more healthy and beautiful relationships, not just personally, but professionally and otherwise.
When we know to put ourselves first and take care of ourselves it has a really good impact on those that we serve. When we learn to put ourselves first it has a very positive effect on our work and our families etc.
What happens when we don’t put ourselves first is that we experience burn out because we didn’t do the necessary self-care. Assertiveness helps us to begin to do the work of recognizing the infinite value of our work and the importance of being our authentic selves.
Lorna Blake is a powerful, positive and inspiring empowerment specialist. She has over 10 years experience in helping people take charge of their lives and achieve their goals.
Using her own personal story of triumph over difficulties she has facilitated workshops and seminars and helped hundreds of clients. Her story touches the lives of people everywhere. She has recently written a 6 week e-Course on Assertiveness Training and an e-Book entitled Whose Life Is It Anyway.
She specializes in coaching clients for self-empowerment, relationships, health, stress-management, finances, transitions and work-life balance. She teaches clients to take gradual steps and have fun along the way to reaching their goals.