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How to Be Assertive Without Being Too Aggressive

How to Be Assertive Without Being Too Aggressive

Have you ever been in a situation where you are in a group whose opinions are not aligned with yours? What did you do? Did you keep quiet or did you express your opinions just as they express themselves?

Assertiveness is a skill of those people who can express themselves straightforwardly, without stepping on the rights of others. However, not everyone knows the importance of assertiveness for both personal and professional lives. Some people find it difficult to be assertive. But what most of us don’t know is that assertiveness is not a unique trait a person can possess that others don’t have. It is actually a skill which we can learn.

Why Do Some People Find It Hard To Be Assertive

To be assertive requires three points of the triangle; the passive, aggressive and assertive . You need to find the right mix of these three important points to be assertive.

The Passive

When we were kids, adults always taught us to be kind and friendly to other kids. Most of us have adapted this teaching to a point where we oftentimes become hesitant to express our opinions and thoughts. We believe that it is not nice to argue and disagree with others.

We develop a passive behavior because we are programmed to believe that those who goes out of the norm and are not afraid to say what they want to say are rude, disrespectful and are often rejected. But what you don’t know is that by being passive no one else gets upset but you. We are stepping into our own rights and it can negatively impact our self-confidence.

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The Aggressive

Completely opposite to being passive, aggressive people tend to fail in considering other people’s rights and feelings. They are not aware that by expressing their opinions, they have undermined the self-esteem and the rights of others.

Aggressive behaviors come in so many ways. By simply demanding someone rather than asking, rushing them or ignoring them, we are encouraging them to be passive while we become aggressive.

The Assertive

Assertiveness is finding the right balance between being passive and being aggressive. It is a two-way communication where we can convey our message and listen to others as well. It encourages an exchange of views so the rights of both parties are exercised and opinions and feelings are expressed appropriately. It means sharing, appreciating others and seeing them as an equal.

It can be a struggle finding the right balance. Our current roles, past experiences, how we view ourselves, the stress we experience and our incorrect assumption that these traits are by nature affect our responses and our communication with others. But if we become self-aware and we open our minds, we will realize how important it is to learn how to be assertive.

How Can Being Assertive Help Our Professional And Personal Lives?

As mentioned earlier, assertiveness can provide significant growth both in our professional and personal lives. Forbes reported [1]that leaders who are assertive are perceived to have higher integrity than those who are not. Also, it is vital for an organization to have a team of assertive individuals that promote cooperation, support, unity, training and developments . This is to successfully establish an effective project management process which is essential for project success.

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When it comes to our personal development, assertiveness sure helps a lot. Here are some of them.

Provide Yourself More Value. Assertiveness increases self-confidence and improves self-image. You develop the awareness that you have are not only entitled to your own opinions, but you have the right to express them. Also, you adopt a more realistic view of yourself.

You Learn To Value Others. Rather than seeing other people as a threat, an assertive behavior allows you to see them in a realistic context. You understand the individualities of a person and you see them as collaborators which can help you achieve things.

Gives You An Opportunity To Achieve More. When you convey your message appropriately and clearly, you never have to worry about unresolved issues or not being able to please other people. You can channel your effort and time for more worthy things which can help you unleash your full potential.

Overall, one major benefit of being assertive is that it allows us to h ave a healthy relationship with other people while improving ourselves. It may not be easy, but over time, we can learn to develop this behavior.

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So, What Does It Takes To Be Assertive?

Each person has different ways of developing assertiveness in them. For others, it can be pretty easy, while for some it may require them a lot of efforts to be assertive. But here are some tips we can work on to develop our assertiveness.

Know Your Value As A Person

Never allow other people to let you feel less important as them. Don’t allow them to make you feel inferior. Understand that your opinions, thoughts, feelings and your right to express them are as valuable as others.

We have a full control of ourselves. Some people may treat us poorly because they can see us doing that on our own selves. That gives them permission to treat us the way they do. Our confidence, energy and our attitude convey a message to people. These trigger their actions towards us.

If they see us as someone who has high regard of ourselves and someone who knows how to protect our rights and dignity, they will treat us as such as well. So it all starts with ourselves. When we know our value as a person, people will start to see us as their equal.

Identify Your Needs And Wants And Address Them

If you wait for people to address and satisfy your needs, you might wait for forever. Be independent. You need to put yourself in action to satisfy your own needs and wants. Moreover, when you learn to work towards satisfying your needs, you are more likely to reach your true potential and you become self-fulfilled. Thus, you boost your self-confidence and self-esteem.

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However, in your desire to achieve your goals, do not forget that there are limitations. Do not be over-fixated with your dreams that you ignore and undermine other people’s rights. They too have to work for their own desires so make sure you don’t sacrifice other people’s needs to achieve yours.

Acknowledge The Fact That You Have No Control Of People’s Response

As the cliché saying goes, “you can’t please everyone”. You are not responsible for other people’s response towards your actions. So stop fretting about upsetting them because of your assertive behavior.

We are only responsible for our actions. We should not concede to their wants and needs for as long as we are not violating their rights and feelings. If they don’t like how we assert our own views and opinions, it is not our responsibility.

Express And Accept Criticisms In An Appropriate Manner

We have an imperfect life and that is why we give criticisms to others and receive criticisms as well. It is important that we should learn how to express negative thoughts to others in a way that we don’t violate their rights. Point mistakes and opinions, but express it in a way that it will be useful for the improvement and development of that certain person.

Likewise, when we receive criticisms, we should not take it personally. It’s okay to be upset or angry for a moment, but we should never lose our respect for the person. Instead, let’s view criticisms as a useful feedback which we can use for our personal or professional growth.

Say “No” When You Feel It’s Not Right For You

We always have to go for what’s right for us. We can’t just go with other people’s demand, especially if it is not aligned with our principles. If we do, we are losing our self-worth. We should always remember that it’s okay not no please everyone for as long as we are not stepping on their rights. But, if there is really a need to do things which are beyond our capabilities, we can learn to find other alternatives to meet halfway and provide a win-win solution.

Learning how to be assertive is not as complicated as we think. It may take some time to master assertiveness, but with constant practice, we can slowly make a transition. So give it a try and who knows, sooner or later, you will enjoy the long-term benefits of being assertive.

Reference

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Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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