You now know what assertiveness is, what it constitutes and how people behave when being assertive. But do you know what assertiveness does not look like? What are the behaviours that need to be avoided and why do some people use assertiveness as an excuse to get away with selfish behaviour?
Take this lesson to learn more and don’t forget to take the accompanying quiz at the end of the lesson.
People confuse assertiveness with behaviours such as being rude, haughty, aggressive, angry, insulting, and impatient to name a few. Consciously or unconsciously, people routinely exhibit these negative behaviours under the guise of assertiveness, in order to meet their self-serving needs.
Therefore, to gain a clear understanding about behaviours that can be termed as assertiveness, you not only need to know what assertiveness is, you must also be well versed with what assertiveness is not.
And that is exactly what you will learn from this lesson.
The first behaviour that does not fall under the ambit of assertiveness is…
1. Being inconsiderate of others’ needs, feelings and rights
If you are not mindful of other people’s needs, and preoccupied only with yours, then your behaviour will more often than not, be aggressive rather than assertive.
This is true even if you are not rude, arrogant, boorish, agitated, angry, or ready to pick a fight. Just by being inconsiderate of the other person’s need, you are being aggressive. For instance, you may say ‘No’ to a request gently and with a smile, but if you do this with an intention to meeting only your needs, and completely ignoring the other person’s needs, you are being aggressive.
2. Living by the Philosophy – ‘It’s Either my Way or the Highway’
Severe migraine had forced Naina to stay back at home. When Naina called her manager, Neeta, she lashed out in anger…
Neeta to Naina: ‘I need the report right away. I don’t care that you’re ill and on leave, or even if you are vacationing in Hawaii. These are mere excuses.’
Neeta turns around to see an onlooker from another team observing her with disapproval.
Neeta to the onlooker: ‘I need to be assertive, otherwise I will never get anything done.’
People who think this way don’t really consider or value others’ opinions, boundaries, and needs.
Assertiveness is not about disrespecting other people’s needs, and forcefully ensuring that your needs are met.
Sometimes people like Neeta confuse aggression for assertiveness. It’s also possible that they use assertiveness as an excuse for being rude, as and when it suits them. This normally happens due to their inability to view a situation from another person’s point of view.
To sum up what we have learnt from this lesson…
Behaviours that do not fall under the ambit of assertiveness can be broadly classified into two categories…
a. Being inconsiderate of others’ needs, feelings and rights.
b. Living by the Philosophy ‘It’s Either my Way or the Highway’, where people only care about meeting their own needs, and completely ignore others’ needs.
Using assertiveness as a veneer to hide negative behaviour patterns is nothing short of hypocrisy, that must be avoided as far as possible.
Thus far, you have learnt from this lesson and the previous ones, what assertiveness is, and what it is not.
The question that now deserves our attention is – Is assertiveness the best response to every conflict situation? Or should we use it only in certain situations?
These questions will be addressed in our next lesson.
For now, please take the accompanying quiz.