What does it mean to be assertive? Is it a word you would use to describe yourself?
Being assertive is a really useful tool to have in the kit bag. Especially for introverts and highly sensitive people.
You might describe it as the ability to nip things in the bud. It sets out the stall so that everyone knows what page their own. Assertiveness is the opposite of ambiguity, when it comes to making our intentions, our expectations, and our feelings known.
Assertiveness can solve problems before they emerge.
I have seen it crop up in a few articles lately. I was especially interested by responses to the awful story of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins who tragically died last month. Several responses in light of the news have made suggestion that this shows what happens when we fail to teach young people how to be themselves.
This article by Carla Calloway on Introvert Dear makes some really interesting points about certain ways we are failing young introverts in helping them accept their true nature. She picks up on the social pressures that many face to act in extroverted ways and the judgements they face when they would prefer to spend time alone.
Introversion and Isolation
It’s hard enough being a teenager, without those added pressures that come from feeling judged for being who you are. Calloway suggests, there is a danger that some introverts naturally gravitate towards alcohol and drugs as a way of coping with that demand to act more extroverted. There is probably some weight to this. I know that there have been times in my life when alcohol has seen me through unwanted social engagements.
But it’s also not a black and white issue, especially when it comes to being assertive about what we really want.
Why not? Because we don’t always know. Especially when we are young; those teenage years are filled with self-discovery and exploration. Not to mention confusion and contradictory emotions about who we are and what we enjoy doing.
This is one of those episodes that has a general theme, but much like being a teenager, it moves in a few different directions. I look at what assertiveness is, and how gentle rebels can make it a part of our characters. We will also see why it’s not always what we assume it to be when we think about “assertive people”.
Assertiveness is a by-product. It starts, not when you declare what you want, but when you listen to what is needed.
Introverts and the Assertive Slow Burn
It’s important to realise that many introverts and HSPs are slow burners. It takes us time to assess the situation and get comfortable. In this respect, there is little purpose in attempting to be assertive until you understand why it’s worth it. Much like solid leadership. The best bosses are ones that come into a new situation, and deny the urge to make changes as soon as they arrive.
Different Roles, Different Assertions
Everyone is different. We all have unique characters and different roles to play in life. Being assertive isn’t a one-size-fits-all look. In fact, it is unique to each individual.
An assertive person is not always the one you notice. To be assertive you don’t need to demand attention, or to make everyone do what you want. It’s not about getting your own way or inflicting your will on other people.
In a nut shell, an assertive person is someone who is able to be themselves and to express who they are and how they see things.
It starts when we grow in awareness of who we are, how we function, and what we need in order to be at our best. It develops when we become aware of how others function, and what is needed in certain situations where we carry influence. And eventually it is expressed with courage for the good of yourself, other people, and projects you’re working on.
It’s not driven by ego. It’s underpinned by values and a desire to make the world that little bit better. For ourselves, and for others.
Over to You
Are you as assertive as you’d like to be? What is stopping you from being more assertive? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please leave your response in the comments below.