Possessing assertiveness skills means having the ability to communicate with others in a way that is honest and direct, yet tactful and respectful. Being assertive means standing up for your rights, wants and wishes. For example, expressing how the tardiness of a coworker affects you without placing blame or being accusatory is an assertiveness skill that keeps the interaction truthful, positive and direct. One way to learn and strengthen assertiveness skills is to work with others in group activities where skills are clearly defined, modeled and practiced.
Value of Assertiveness
Learning assertiveness skills brings value in terms of enhanced self-worth and respect of others. When using assertiveness skills, like considering the opinions of others, you are more likely to get the results you want. Plus, others are more likely to view you as cooperative, fair and caring. Also, it's more difficult for someone to take advantage of you when you are assertive. Assertiveness behavior means less stress on you and the people with whom you interact, because the focus is on positive, win-win resolutions.
Understanding assertiveness means understanding alternative behaviors that are less desirable or destructive. These behaviors include passive, aggressive and passive-aggressive actions. Passive behavior is overly agreeable and true feelings or opinions are not expressed. Aggressive behavior is full of blame, accusations, finger-pointing and borders on bullying. Passive-aggressive behavior is often sarcastic and gives the impression of agreement, but concerns are held back and expressed after the fact. Many people use the alternatives because they have not learned assertiveness skills. Group activities will allow skill development through demonstration and practice.
Constructing Group Activities
The goal of group activities is to help participants learn to use assertive skills in lieu of passive, aggressive or passive-aggressive behaviors. This is accomplished by clearly defining assertiveness skills and then conducting a demonstration on how to use the skills. In small groups of four to six people, participants then practice what they learn using role-play with observations and feedback. It's important to allow participants to establish trust within the group before role-playing so that every person feels comfortable in participating and receiving constructive feedback.
Sample Group Activity
Giving participants several different scenarios to practice is recommended to reinforce assertiveness techniques. These techniques include using assertive statements and body language. One scenario is to ask participants to role-play how they would respond to someone who fails to complete an obligation as promised. Within the group, two persons role-play the scenario while the others serve as observers and provide feedback. Role-plays are repeated until each group member gets to practice assertiveness skills in each scenario.
- Mountain State Centers for Independent Living: What is Assertiveness and Why Be Assertive?
- Mayo Clinic Stress Management: The Benefits of Being Assertive
- University of Wisconsin Oshkosh: Participant Guide - Assertiveness Training: Let Your Voice be Heard!
- University of Texas at Austin: Group Assertiveness Training by Dolph Printz, 2003 - The Clearinghouse for Structured/Thematic Groups & Innovative Programs
- Mountain State Centers for Independent Living: Assertiveness Role Playing and Sample Situations
Deb Dupree has been an active writer throughout her career in the corporate world and in public service since 1982. She has written numerous corporate and educational documents including project reports, procedures and employee training programs. She has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Tennessee.