“What Is Assertiveness?: Assertiveness is the ability to express one’s feelings and assert one’s rights while respecting the feelings and rights of others. Assertive communication is appropriately direct, open and honest, and clarifies one’s needs to the other person.”
“What Are the Benefits of Assertiveness?: Assertiveness affects many areas of life. Assertive people tend to have fewer conflicts in their dealings with others, which translates into much less stress in their lives. They get their needs met (which also means less stressing over unmet needs), and help others get their needs met, too.”
“Aggressiveness tends to alienate others and create unnecessary stress. Those on the receiving end of aggressive behavior tend to feel attacked and often avoid the aggressive individual, understandably. Over time, people who behave aggressively tend to have a string of failed relationships and little social support, and they don’t always understand that this is related to their own behavior.”
“Passive individuals don’t know how to adequately communicate their feelings and needs to others. They tend to fear conflict so much that they let their needs go unmet and keep their feelings secret in order to ‘keep the peace’. Passive people aim to avoid conflict by avoiding communication about their needs and feelings, but this behavior damages relationships in the long run.”
Feelings and needs…feelings and needs…what a crock. Every amateur psychobabblist is trying to get us to assert our feelings and needs, in a respectful manner, you know – wouldn’t want to upset the poor soul who just cut in front of us, you know, need to think “win-win” and all that, you know.
I disagree – respectfully, of course. Anyone can master the ungentle art of being assertive. All one has to do is direct every waking thought and action on satisfying one’s feelings and needs without irritating the other Olympian Gods who wander the aisles of the local Wal-Mart. Then it’s off to bed with a hearty pat on the back: “I reduced my stress today and still met all my needs! I’m the best!”
magnanimous (adj.): 1. generous in forgiving an insult or injury; free from petty resentfulness or vindictiveness. 2. high-minded; noble. 3. proceeding from or revealing generosity or nobility of mind, character, etc.
I wonder what this country would be like if we promoted magnanimity more than assertiveness. Being assertive is easy. As a parent I do it all the time, e.g., announce to one of my offspring why his or her unbecoming speech or behavior is hurting my feelings and/or not meeting my needs. Easy, isn’t it? Outside the house, though, I try to hold a more magnanimous view of my relationships with others. Even if it means I have to listen more, or wait more, or get home later at night, or even take more abuse, I am going to embrace a magnanimous attitude. Why? Time to state the resolution:
Resolution No. 3: When in difficult times, I will try to be magnanimous, even if my needs are being stomped into oblivion.
I will not lose my temper when the restaurant hostess miscalculates my wait for a table by a factor of seven.
I will not be brusque with health care providers who seem to be on a mission to bungle all of my well-laid plans, especially those plans that mysteriously turn out to be incompetent.
I will drive my car with a peaceful, easy feeling, that won’t let me down, even in the presence of motorists who obviously left without taking their seeing-eye dog with them.
I will help out when asked, listen when spoken to and not let other folks’ problems serve as an excuse to ridicule or avoid them. I will embrace this glorious life on Earth with a generous spirit, so that those who remember me might say “He was part of the solution…”
Gee, according to the experts keeping New Year’s Resolutions are tougher than I realized. I better stop now before some comedian on December 31, 2008 turns my list into a stand-up monologue. ¡Felíz año nuevo!