Can a Passive Person Become Assertive?

Communication is an essential element of human co-operation and action in society. Communication can also be defined as an understanding between two or more people, by transmitting and receiving messages, a process in which people send and receive information.

There are three basic types of communication: passive/submissive, aggressive and assertive.

assertivePassivity involves refraining from expressing your desires, needs, and feelings to please others. This style of communication involves avoiding conflict situations, which usually results in problem-solving and prevents you from achieving what you want. It does not guarantee support and acceptance, but it can irritate others and create a picture of incompetence. Such persons allow others to neglect and deny them their rights and rarely complain. Also, passive individuals allow people to control their lives by letting other people make important decisions.

People often choose passive behavior in situations where they need to fight for themselves. Many consider passive silence in decision-making and problem-solving situations to be the best choice. Unfortunately, this is completely wrong.

This form of communication is characterized by anxiety, dissatisfaction, later resentment and anger towards others. It is often associated with negative outcomes such as depression.

Aggressive communication involves a direct assertion of your rights, expressing thoughts, feelings and beliefs in a way that is usually insincere, usually inadequate and always threatens another person’s rights. The goal of aggressive behavior is to establish control over other people and situations, to show power or achieving victory over another person.

Assertiveness is a new term in the psychological literature (assertive = persistent, self-aware, confident). It is defined as the pursuit of personal rights, the expression of thoughts, feelings, and attitudes in a direct, honest, moderate and appropriate way, with respect for other people.

Assertive communication includes:

  • Clear expression of personal thoughts and feelings
  • Representation of your interests without endangering other
  • Active listening (looking into the eyes, showing understanding and feeling)
  • Positive objection (criticism)
  • Receiving and giving compliments
  • Seeking the help or information you need
  • Expressing disagreement with an opinion
  • The ability to say no if you don’t want to do something
  • Ask “why” and question authority and tradition
  • Take responsibility for a situation where you have some control
  • Be constructive in solving problems and conflicts

Assertiveness is associated with adequate social behavior in different situations, to display acceptable behavior without fear and anger. It is considered an aspect of social and emotional intelligence.

Upbringing, but also some cultural norms and values ​​influence the development of assertiveness. The discomfort in expressing our own opinion is most often caused by the messages we have adopted in our upbringing during the process of socialization. Research shows that accepting a child as an important element of parenting contributes to the child’s development into a mature, self-aware, assertive personality. This is achieved by providing warmth and support, active involvement in the child’s activities, recognizing his needs and responding.

You may wonder can a passive person become assertive, below find out helpful guidelines to help you achieve this goal.

Reject requests that don’t suit you.

You may often be inclined to take on other people’s obligations because of feelings of guilt or fear. However, if you have a valid reason, you have the right to say no and to reject the request.

  • Your “no” must be clearly stated without delay and any statement indicating that you may still change your mind
  • No need to apologize or explain why you refuse someone’s request – just briefly explain your reasons politely
  • It would be okay to offer an alternative or compromise solution, as this will show people that you care about them and are aware of their problems

Receive criticism

Instead of responding to criticism by denying, attacking, and belittling the interlocutor, you can respond assertively:

  • First, you need to listen to the person who criticizes you and to clarify whether the remark is justified
  • If you believe that criticism is justified, you should accept it, apologize for your behavior, and offer a solution to your problematic behavior. Criticism often is well-intentioned and can help improve your performance in an area
  • If you think the criticism is only partially true, it’s okay to acknowledge the true part, but you should also emphasize which parts of the criticism are incorrect
  • If you find the criticism to be completely inaccurate, you should quietly dismiss it, and ask for an explanation

Respond to other people’s anger and aggression

When others treat you aggressively, you tend to retaliate by the same measure. But, this only deepens the conflict and the likelihood of finding a constructive solution to the problem is reduced. To respond assertively to someone else’s hostile emotions and actions, it is recommended that you follow these steps:

  • You first need to calm down to not react aggressively
  • Show the other person that you are aware of how he or she is feeling, but also express your feelings and opinions about the situation
  • If the other person’s aggressive behavior continues, repeat your opinion briefly, and if it does not produce results, then calmly and indicate the consequences

Apply the time-out technique

This technique is suitable for problems that often occur between parents and children. The person in this dialog conflict “interrupts the game” as in basketball, without engaging in discussion. This technique only applies to dialogue in which the interviewee makes unrealistic demands.

Repeated assertive response technique

With the technique of repeating an assertive response, you try to appreciate the fact that the interviewee points out, but defend your right. When using this technique, the person is allowed to state his position about the basic problem. This technique can be applied without consequence in the dialogue between equal and emotionally connected persons.

Consider appropriate ways to be assertive in every situation that matters to you

There are many ways to plan effective, tactical and correct assertive responses in a given situation. Learn from good examples. Watch closely how other people respond to situations similar to yours and consider whether they are assertive, passive or aggressive. Read some books on assertive communication.

There is no progress today without communication and no progress without progress. To avoid these problems, you must learn to express yourself properly and to express your views with no fear. Many problems occurring in communication, they arise because you are not listening to understand, but to answer the question asked. To succeed in this, you must work for yourself.

The best way to change the things that bother you is to practice communication with other people, to develop confidence and to become an assertive person from a passive one.