Common myths about assertiveness
In previous articles(1 & 2) we discussed the importance of assertiveness in the age of the coronavirus. We discussed how behaving passively, by putting the rights and needs of others, could lead to putting ourselves and our loved ones in danger if it leads to not following the CDC guidelines in order to appease others. We discussed how, over time, behaving passively could lead to allowing pent up anger and frustration to cause us to unjustifiably lash out at others, which could damage valued relationships. Behaving aggressively, by putting our own rights and needs above those of others, is often preceded by consistent passive behavior.
We often know that we could benefit from learning to be more assertive. However, the Center for Clinical Interventions teaches us that there are a few myths that often hold us back. Let’s briefly discuss those myths.
Myth: Assertiveness and aggressiveness are the same thing
Assertiveness and aggressiveness both involve us stating our own rights and needs. However, assertive and aggressive communication and behavior differ in the body language, the words used, and the tone taken. Assertiveness involves giving equal respect to the rights and needs of others and ourselves.
Myth: Being assertive means I will always get what I want
Assertiveness is a healthy and respectful way of communicating, but does not guarantee a desired outcome. Sometimes assertiveness leads to a desired outcome, sometimes it does not, and sometimes it leads to a mutually agreed compromise.
Myth: I should be assertive in every situation
Learning assertiveness skills gives us options. There may be situations when we believe it is not appropriate to behave assertively. For example, if a stranger is behaving belligerently at a bar, it is probably best to walk away rather than practicing assertiveness.
These myths often prevent us from practicing our assertiveness skills. However, now that we are aware of theses myths, what is the next step? In the next article we will discuss what the Center for Clinical Interventions refers to as our Assertive Rights.
Dr. Jason von Stietz specializes in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Sport/Performance Psychology in Torrance, CA. He provides online therapy (telehealth) by way of the Torrance office and is available for a free initial phone consultation. Dr. von Stietz works with individuals from Long Beach, the greater Los Angeles area, and the South Bay including Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo and all over California.