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Alison Burgess

Can you be too Assertive?

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Hands up who thinks you can be too assertive? If I asked this in one of my communications skills workshops I can be sure at least half of the group will agree. So what does too assertive look and sound like? Muffled responses, murmurs about shouting and pointing, perhaps a few comments about being pushy and taking it to far.

But is there really such a thing as being TOO Assertive? And more importantly is that a bad thing?

What do we mean by Assertive?

Lets start by exploring what we mean by Assertiveness. To pick a standard definition, “Someone who is assertive behaves confidently and is not frightened to say what they want or believe”. I think most of us would view this form of communication as a positive and constructive way to engage with others.

So is the challenge around HOW we are assertive.  Is this where we run into danger of taking things too far?

To me the three main characteristics of assertive communication are:

Honesty – communicate openly with no hidden agendas

Respect – the rights & opinions of yourself and others

Win:Win – look for the best possible option for both parties.

Let’s agree that these are all admirable communication traits which personally I don’t think can be overdone.

Its all about Perspective

So if its not Assertive communication itself that presents the challenge then perhaps the problem is how we “position” Assertiveness? The traditional view of Assertiveness places it in the middle of two “danger zones”, Passive and Aggressive. But is that a helpful way to represent such a positive way of communicating?

What about viewing Assertiveness as a a considered balance of courage and consideration. Have courage for yourself, your views, what matters to you. Also consideration for the other parties views and needs. When you balance these two different perspectives in an honest and respectful way it sends out a positive message that you are looking for the best possible solution in even the most challenging situations.

So why not have being 100% assertive as your goal? Have confidence in yourself, be assertive, everyone wins!

Alison Burgess is a Resilience Expert and Confidence Coach. For more information about Alison, or her company Limitless for Life click here, follow on twitter or call 0121 369 1964.

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