Assertiveness can be defined as communication in which one expresses oneself in a direct and honest manner in interpersonal situations, while simultaneously respecting the rights and dignity of others.
Assertiveness training builds the skill necessary to establish your health voice. It helps individuals find themselves passive or on the other spectrum individuals that act aggressively. Assertiveness training is also useful for those who would like to improve their interpersonal skills and build their sense of self-esteem and self-respect.
The foundation of assertiveness training is based on the principle that we all have a right to express our thoughts, feelings, and needs to others, as long as it is done in a respectful way.
Even though, assertiveness training provides guidelines for assertive communication and behavior, assertiveness conduct is specific to a particular person in a particular time, in a particular situation, and in a particular cultural and context. There is no one-fits-all solution. Behaving assertively seems simple, yet it is difficult to most people. This is why it is important that assertiveness training not only emphasize discussing the importance of assertiveness communication, but also focuses on learning assertive behaviors (not aggressive behavior and not passive behavior) and practicing these behaviors with the help of a professional psychotherapist that is expert in assertiveness training.
Psychotherapists that are expert in assertiveness can help clients figure out the best method that fits individual’s style and situations. In addition, counselors help to identify beliefs and attitudes the clients may have developed that lead them to become too passive or too aggressive. Once clients understand the significance of assertive behavior for their circumstances, counselors assist them build up more assertive behaviors. As mentioned before, assertiveness training emphasizes both verbal and nonverbal behavior. Verbal behavior is the content of a communication (what is actually said.) This includes expressing requests, feelings and opinions. Nonverbal behavior includes style of communication: eye contact, posture, tone and volume of speech, physical distance, and listening.
The assertiveness skills training helps participants understand that expressing needs in a healthy way is important. It teaches skills for utilizing verbal and non-verbal communication skills while knowing when to say “NO.” Participants learn to recognize, address and de-escalate conflict when it occurs. In addition, learning emotional intelligence, specifically addressing difficult emotions, such anger is provided. In the assertiveness training program, participants will practice through role-play and exercises.
We can all learn how to become more assertiveness and improve our assertiveness skills. Some individuals can improve their ability by reading books on assertiveness training and practicing the exercises outlined in these books. For many others, however, professional help is necessary to make deep, long and lasting changes, while integrating and internalizing healthy assertiveness skills.
Some of the goals that could be achieved in assertiveness training include:
- Identify and express interpersonal rights in an assertive manner
- Develop and refine assertive communication skills
- Develop and improve assertive behavior
- Identify and reduce emotional blocks which prevent them from acting assertively
- Understand the concepts of assertive behavior
- Become more aware of individuals’ own passive/assertive/aggressive behaviors
- Understand how to establish healthy boundaries
- Learn how to say “NO”
- Practice assertive behaviors in a variety of situations
If you or someone you know might benefit from assertiveness training, it is important to find a counselor who is an expert in assertiveness methods.
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