MAXINE HARLEY: Is it time you were more assertive?

Maxine Harley
Maxine Harley

Perhaps like many people you think that assertiveness means being stroppy, aggressive, awkward or bossy.

If you’re a withdrawn or shy person, and too accommodating to other people’s needs, then the thought of being more visible and vocal might feel strange and even frightening to you.

Assertiveness is not about being aggressive or passive.

It’s about -

:: Feeling OK in your own skin and knowing that you have the right and responsibility to determine your own path in life, and to be treated with respect by others.

:: Stating your perception, thoughts, feelings, wants and needs in a clear and concise way.
:: Sharing your perspective and clarifying your boundaries about what is OK with you and what isn’t.
:: Deciding what is best for you and expressing that without having to justify it to anyone.
:: Asking for more information, clarity and help when you need it.

It also includes changing your mind, asking for more time to complete a project, and asking for what you know you rightly deserve.

The process of assertiveness is:

:: A situation or event
:: Your inner self-talk about it
:: Your feelings and body sensations which accompany that
:: Your chosen behaviour

A basic framework for behaving assertively includes:

:: Start with the word ‘I’, and speaking from your own point of view - such as I wonder, I’m curious, I’m confused.
:: Stating what you see and hear (your perceptions)
:: Saying what you’re thinking and feeling about that
:: Adding what you’re imagining this all means (this is VERY important!)
:: And ending with what you want or prefer to happen instead.

The power of this structure is that no-one can deny what you are saying or claim that you’re wrong. You are stating your truth.

You are saying ‘this is what’s going on for me and I’m sharing that with you’.

Assertiveness is very empowering, and a way of speaking up for the rights of the adult you are now, as well as the young child inside you who couldn’t be assertive in the past.

So, now is always the best time to assert yourself!

Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)

Maxine Harley has a masters degree in psychotherapy, has written two books, and created four new approaches to psychological, emotional and physical well-being. She lives happily in Chichester with her daughter and grandson.