The Art of Assertiveness
As humans, we are uniquely social creatures. Much of our lives are built around the relationships and communications we have with others. And the artful use of assertiveness is critical to those relationships and communications. It allows those interactions to blossom while supporting us and our own needs. Here’s how to master it.
Understanding Artful Assertiveness
In “The Assertiveness Guide For Women,” author Julie De Azevedo Hanks defines assertiveness as
“a way of communicating that is clear, confident, and self-assured. It enables you to express your thoughts, feelings, needs, and wants without infringing on the rights of others.” “At it’s core, assertiveness is about the courage to express difference.”
Her book is an outstanding read, by the way. It’s set to be released about August 1, so mark your calendar and pick up a copy, and a new highlighter, because you’ll have lots to highlight.
So assertiveness isn’t about control or bullying. It’s about honoring yourself while also honoring those around you.
In order to accomplish that, it’s important that compassion and calmness prevail. And a key ingredient to achieving that is through the use of curiosity. Because by remaining curious, it’s easier to evaluate the position of the other seeking to understand rather than forming judgments.
Mindfulness is a buzzword we hear frequently. To a large extent, it’s about maintaining a state of calmness. In our hurried society, we receive a ton of information to process. Doing so as more of an observer than a participant allows you to remain calm and deflect conflict.
The elements of mindfulness can be found in meditation, yoga, and other similar practices. And there are many resources both in print and online to help you learn those techniques. But one easy to remember technique that can be practiced anywhere at any time is controlled breathing.
We all know that we have to breathe to live. Our body requires oxygen. And the physical and chemical effects of proper breathing can be huge. Oddly enough, few of us are conscious of how we breathe. Pay attention to your breathing patterns. Take deep breaths, and slow your breathing down. You’ll find it more calming than you might think.
Compassion And Curiosity
In our rush to do life, to get through another day, we frequently let our subconscious mind do a little more than is wise. We mindlessly categorize things, people, and events without much if any thought. But in doing so it becomes easy to accept that our label is correct. And then we react with a mindset of “rightness” about our opinion. From there, we can find ourselves on the slippery slope of insisting that our way or view is best.
Rather than doing life in that way, pay attention. As you go through life’s experiences, add an element of curiosity. What’s it like from the other person’s perspective? Then add some compassion. How would I feel in their position? Surprisingly, having that level of empathy is actually empowering. There’s no longer an adversarial pall in the air. You’re much more able to calmly hold, assertively hold, your position because you have a clearer understanding of theirs.
I recently read “Living Curiously” by Becki Saltzman. It’s a great read to expand on the benefits of curiosity. Coupled with “The Assertiveness Guide,” you’ll find a powerful course for doing life in a whole new way. One that honors yourself, and honors the “other side.”
For me, learning to become artfully assertive has created a new level of inner peace. And we can all use more of that.