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How Being Assertive Can Help Your Relationship

  Written by Riley Mitchell

Oftentimes, we hear the word “assertive” in reference to our professional life. Being more assertive at work to secure a promotion or pay rise, for example. But assertive behavior is the cornerstone of every relationship, not just the ones we share with peers and management at the office.

In fact, assertiveness is the very architect of healthy personal relationships - particularly those that we share with our significant other. Here, we’re going to take a look at what defines assertive behavior and how employing it in day-to-day interactions with our loved ones can improve almost every aspect of our most important relationships.

First, let’s think back to those blissful early days of dating. Many of us would bend over backwards to please our partners - even if our actions didn't necessarily agree with our own opinions or beliefs. This is the start of typically passive behavior, and it’s common. When we don’t really know a person well, we might not feel that we have “the right” to contradict them. Or we may just want to show willing, to charm them. After several months, perhaps we sort of resign ourselves to forsaking our own happiness so that we can promote theirs. That’s what partners do for each other, right?

Actually, what we’re doing here is unwittingly setting ourselves up for a fall, as these passive behaviors become ingrained. Because bad habits learned at the beginning of a partnership tend to stick, the sooner we can turn them around, the better. Also, think of it a bit like false advertising; how is our partner supposed to feel if we’ve been agreeing with them on everything for years and then they discover - often through our simmering resentment - that this isn’t how we feel at all?!

Worry not, though. No matter what stage you’ve reached in your relationship, it’s never too late to bolster your skills in assertiveness so that you can achieve greater happiness in your bond.

Want to Be More Assertive?

We have online courses with full 12-months' access.
RRP from $229 – limited time offer just $49


What are the key components of assertive behavior?

We discuss assertiveness at length in a separate article, but to nutshell it, you can recognize assertive types in the following ways:

●        They express confidence and healthy self-esteem: Assertives understand their likes and dislikes, and they set themselves personal boundaries which they feel comfortable expressing. When assertive types communicate, they do so clearly and directly whilst taking care not to overshadow others who wish to put their point across.

●        They demonstrate a respect for the opinions of others: However confident an assertive person is about their beliefs, they don’t feel it necessary to undermine the feelings of others. In fact, they’ll often seek opinion from those they engage and validate them with positive reinforcement.

●        They are excellent listeners: When assertive types listen, they really listen - taking care to repeat key points and respond, with relevance, to what has been said.

●        They place as much value on others as they do themselves: What assertives want more than anything is to ensure that everyone is happy with a proposed situation. Even if that means that the outcome isn’t what they hoped for - an assertive person will seek to ensure that disputes are resolved respectfully, and this reaffirms mutual respect.

How can assertiveness lead to a better relationship

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t want to be a bit more like the above described. Because assertiveness not only improves the way we feel about ourselves, it makes us look pretty great in the eyes of others. It improves relationships across the board, but none more so than our connection with our partner. Here’s how:

We’re able to be honest about our feelings

Through assertiveness, we’re able to move from a passive state of being and allow ourselves the basic right to decide what we want. We’re also then equipped with the skills of assertive communication; to express our views with confidence and with respect for the feelings of our partner. This healthy self-image (more on that, here), along with a compassionate understanding of our partner’s needs, are not only an attractive quality but a fundamental need, if we want to grow in our relationships.

We become better listeners

Assertive skills allow us to really tune into what our partners are saying to us. Think - and perhaps many of us have found ourselves here at one time or another - how we would feel if we thought that what we were saying didn’t matter. Worse still, if our partner didn’t even seem as though they were listening? Through developing our listening skills, we make every effort to show our partner that their opinions, even the most trivial day-to-day happenings in their lives, matter to us.

We’re less likely to take our partner for granted

This can be a very large bone of contention in relationships, and it’s something that most of us are guilty of doing at one time or another. Developing our skills in assertiveness puts us in the frame of mind of our partner and, in doing so, renders us less selfish. In the classic assertive way, we are primarily concerned that “everyone is happy”.

We’re able to acknowledge and repair mistakes

Pig-headedness can be a real stumbling block in our closest personal relationships. It’s a trait that’s associated with aggressive personalities and all it serves to do is show our partner that we don’t value their feelings - or we place our own interests before theirs. Through adopting assertive qualities we’re able to take a measured view of conflicts. Whether we think we’re in the wrong or not, simply acknowledging that our partner feels we’ve done them wrong is a real bridge-builder.

We share the load

This links back nicely to not taking our loved one for granted. Once we’ve established a deep connection, we understand the ramifications of placing too much strain on our partner and we’re far less likely to just “dump” and expect them to deal with things. Through assertive talking and listening, we recognize when our partner has a lot on their plate. Or they just come right out and tell us, because we’ve created an environment in which it’s encouraged to discuss things.

It develops mutual respect

Through the confident expression of one's own needs and positive actions such as careful - active - listening, and validation of the feelings of our loved ones, we show a genuine level of care and compassion. We’re saying to our partner; “I feel this way, but I understand why you feel the way that you do too. Let’s work through things together.”

All good relationships are built on a strong foundation of mutual respect. And assertiveness teaches us exactly that - how to be present in a relationship, receptive to the feelings of our partner, able to admit our own shortcomings and, ultimately, how to act as a unified partnership.

Want to Be More Assertive?

We have online courses with full 12-months' access.
RRP from $229 – limited time offer just $49



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