What is your approach to relationships?
Most people don’t consciously think about their method or style of interacting with others. But I believe there are great benefits to making direct choices or decisions on how we communicate with others, especially if we want to have satisfying and rewarding relationships.
Successful relationships are assertive relationships!
When someone treats you unfairly, do you bring it to their attention?
Do you generally express what you feel?
Do you openly criticize other people’s ideas, opinions, and behavior?
In assertive relationships each partner has the ability to express feelings and ask for what they want and need in the relationship. Assertiveness is an invaluable communication skill. In successful partnerships, both people are generally assertive. They don’t mind-read and make assumptions; they express their feelings, intentions and ask directly for what they want. They also clearly tell their partner the meaning, reasons and importance of what they are asking for so there is greater understanding of the need or request.
Submissive, Aggressive and Assertive Behaviors
Robert Bolton in his book “People Skills” sees behaviors on a continuum: submissive, assertive and aggressive.
Submissive Behaviors- These people typically show a lack of respect for their own needs and rights; don’t honestly share feelings and needs. They allow others to violate their space, deny rights and ignore their needs. The “price” of submissive behavior is “an unlived life.” Life is less satisfying. Often withdrawal, resentments and even low self-esteem are the results.
Aggressive Behaviors- Aggressive people express their feelings, wants and needs at the expense of others. They win in most conversations and conflicts. They “move against” or “move in order to harm.” Other’s feelings are not considered and become unimportant. There is little value, honor or respect. Aggressive behaviors tend to push people away, alienates them and causes them to withdraw and avoid.
Assertive Behaviors- The assertive person communicates in a way that they can maintain self-respect and still care for others. They can defend their rights and personal space without abusing or dominating others. They consider the rights and feelings of themselves and of others.
The Advantages of Assertive Relationships
- Assertive people enjoy their life more.
- They feel good about themselves; are comfortable with themselves and others.
- Their relationships are more satisfying.
- They have less need to control others to get their needs met and don’t have to “protect” themselves.
- The assertive person can see their partner’s perspective, accept them and understand them better.
- Mutually assertive people meet each other’s needs in healthy, mutually satisfying ways.
- Assertive behavior greatly reduces a fears and anxiety.
- Chances of getting what you want out of life improve greatly.
- Assertion is results oriented.
- Their relationships have the opportunity for greater closeness and intimacy.
Assertive relationships are not about personality. They are about being aware of behaviors and making changes that get you more enjoyment out of life and make your relationships great!