Your Voice: Assertiveness
Balanced, Self-Determined Behaviour
Being Assertive is to engage in Balanced Self Determinism

Other Determined Behaviour:
        When your behaviour is determined by the needs of others
Self Determined Behaviour:            When your behaviour is determined by your needs while respecting
the needs of others.
Selfish Determined Behaviour:        When your behaviour is determined by your needs alone

It is important to notice that the focus is on BALANCE!
All of us swing from one end of the range to another, at times.
What counts is, that MOST of the time we are in the "middle" - in the "balanced" position".

Life is give and take; that's where the "balanced" part comes in. Balanced means that through dialogue and
"negotiation", each person modifies something (that's their "giving", but each person also gains something;
and both comes out ahead.
Passive: Other Determined
Behaviour (ODB)
When your behaviour is determined
only by the needs of others.

Other-Determined Behaviour

Insecure, wants to be liked
is not respectful of self
“I don’t count, you count more”

(Effects on self)

You become self-denying

You become inhibited, passive

You do not achieve your goals

You allow others to choose for you

You become hurt and anxious

(Effects on others)

Others can become guilty or angry

Depreciates others

Achieve goals at your expense
When your behaviour is determined by
your needs while respecting the needs of
others at the same time!

Balanced Self-Determined Behaviour

Warm, caring, considerate
considers other's rights and feelings
respectful of others and self

(Effects on self)

Is self enhancing

You are expressive and active

You may achieve your desired goals

You choose for yourself

You feel good about yourself

(Effects on others)

Enhances others


They may achieve desired goals
Aggressive: Selfish Determined
Behaviour (SDB)
When your behaviour is determined
only by your needs alone.

Selfish-Determined Behaviour

Cold-hearted, Selfish, Inconsiderate
does not consider others’ rights and
feelings is not respectful of others

(Effects on self)

Is self enhancing at the expense of others

You are expressive and aggressive

You achieve you goals by hurting others

You choose for others

You depreciate others

(Effects on others)

Denies others’ selves

Others become hurt, defensive, humiliated

They do not achieve desired goals
Assertiveness is the ability to express your needs and rights, positive or negative feelings without violating
the rights and limits of others.

Assertiveness is the capacity to
  • make requests,
  • actively disagree,
  • express positive or negative personal rights or feelings,
  • initiate, maintain or disengage from conversations, and,
  • stand up for yourself without “attacking” someone else.

Assertiveness features:
  • Communication skills, ability to express your thoughts and future ideas
  • ability to identify and express your feelings
  • Define and respect limits
  • Communicate and listen in an open, direct and honest way
  • NOTE: Those who do not yet have the abilities to do the above well, will not be able to achieve these
      goals at once. Before you try to develop skills for assertive behaviour you have to believe that you have
      the legitimate rights to have this needs:

RIGHTS: You have;
  • The right to your own values, opinions and emotions
  • The right to change, enhance and develop your life in your own way
  • The right to decide how and where to lead your life and establishing own priorities and goals.
  • The right not to justify feelings or behaviour to others
  • The right to respect your needs and limits
  • The right to tell other how you wish to be treated
  • The right to say "NO"
  • The right to take the necessary time and support to formulate your ideas and wishes before
      expressing them.
  • The right to ask for help and information without having negative feelings of shame or guilt
  • The right to make mistakes
  • The right to change your mind or sometimes act illogically
  • The right to like yourself even through you are not perfect

RIGHTS OTHERS HAVE: the same ones You have

ASSERTIVENESS IS NOT... Permission and approval given by someone else you may feel has been running   
your life.
ASSERTIVENESS WILL...  Help you change your feelings about yourself.
  • Guarantee that the other person will change his or her behavior and give you what you want or need but
      it will give you the ability to express the feelings occurring when the specific behavior occurs. There are
      times when the only satisfaction from the assertion will be that you have expressed the feeling rather
      than internalizing it!
  • Guarantee that the other person will like you better.
  • Guarantee that the other person will not get upset or angry by what you say or do.
  • Change another person's opinion of you.

  1. The only behavior you can control is your own; and
  2. People are not mind readers.
*original handout source: Kishwaukee Community Hospital, DeKalb Illinois.
It is reasonable and proper for me ...
  • to be treated with respect
  • to hold my own views and have them heard
  • to have my own feelings and have them taken seriously
  • to arrange my own priorities
  • to make mistakes
  • to change my mind
  • to choose not to answer questions which are personal or intrusive
  • to choose if and when to assert myself
  • to define and protect the physical space I need
  • to refuse without feeling guilty
  • to get what I pay for
  • to ask for what I want
  • to be given information (by doctors, lawyers, etc.) without being patronized

Any right I claim as my own, I extend to others.

                           Comparison of behaviours chart
Passive or submissive behavior, involves allowing others to take advantage of you--by failing to speak  
up for yourself. When non-assertive persons do express their thoughts and feelings, they often do so in an
indirect, apologetic, timid, self-depreciating manner that others can easily disregard. "It won't do any good,
anyway" is a common excuse used by non-assertive people for not speaking up. Such people often have a
strong need to please others, and disguise their true feelings for fear of offending. Rather than being open
and honest with one another, they are guarded in their comments. The choice of a passive role can be
appropriate when the issue is not of great concern to us, or when we trust the superior knowledge and   
skills of others. The passive role becomes negative when we choose it habitually.

Aggressive behavior, (and Passive-Aggressive) at the opposite extreme, is based on accusing, directing,
overpowering other people, intimidating them, putting them down, making them feel guilty--in order to    
get your way. The aggressive person forces his feelings, needs and ideas on others. Aggressive people     
are often blunt, have a need to control, are often insensitive to the needs and feelings of others, are poor
listeners, and exhibit a selfish single-mindedness that often results in domination. Aggressive behavior   
often triggers a guarded, defensive response from others, and a breakdown in communication results.
Aggressive behavior can be a sign of an insecure person. Such people overcompensate for their    
insecurities through domineering behaviors.
  • People who typically behave in submissive ways often accumulate enormous amounts of frustration
    that finally erupt in an aggressive outburst, followed by feelings of guilt and a return to a submissive
    behavior pattern. This is called passive-aggressive behavior. In both passive and aggressive behaviors,
    people typically disguise what they really want to say by downplaying or exaggerating. This gives
    others a confusing message.

Martyr behavior uses pessimism and guilt to manipulate others. Martyrs are often closed to new ideas, are
prone to use the past to predict the future in negative ways, and like to blame others. They get their way by
making others feel sorry for them. We may appropriately choose to be a martyr by knowingly risking our
reputation and public image to support a controversial cause or person we strongly believe in.

Assertive behavior provides an alternative to the extremes of the previous three behaviors. Being  
assertive involves expressing your needs concerns, ideas and feelings openly in a straightforward, but  
caring, respectful manner without dominating, judging, directing, or depreciating the other person. The
objective of assertive behavior is improved communication--the sharing of information in getting yours and
the other person's feelings, needs, concerns out in the open where they can be dealt with constructively.
Being assertive involves confronting in a straightforward, but caring manner that maintains the other
person's self-esteem and strengthens your relationship. The goal of assertive behavior is to get and give
respect, to jointly resolve differences, and to allow for compromise when conflicts arise.

Not only does being assertive lead to more pleasant interpersonal relations, it also is generally more effective
in getting what you want. Why? Because most people become cooperative when they are approached in an
open, straightforward, respectful, non-manipulative manner.

These four models of behavior are presented to help you assess your communication style and its impact on
others. You will from time to time use all four. This is to be expected. Most important, you have a choice as
to which style you use. As you face different situations, ask yourself, "What kind of response am I getting?
Would greater use of the assertive style make me more effective?" Specific techniques in how to become
more assertive follow (see
When you do . . .         (describe the behavior).
The effects are . . .       (describe how the behavior concretely affects you).
I feel. . .                      (stay in the first person--"I feel. . ." NOT "You are . . .")

There are three essential items of information about your situation that must be conveyed in order to be
assertive. If you haven't provided all three of these items, you haven't completed the job of being assertive.
Though there is no need to slavishly follow this script, filling in the following parantheses with the indicated
content will guide you to assertive communications:
1.        I feel (an emotion label).
2.        When you do (the specific behavior which prompts your emotion).
3.        I want (a proposed solution, which you believe will soothe your emotions).
- An Introduction:

Many of us could become more
effective in speaking up for
ourselves by being more  
assertive. Unfortunately, many
people misunderstand what   
being assertive means. They
incorrectly assume that being
assertive means being   
aggressive. The distinction is
important. The study of
assertiveness identifies four   
styles of behavior in
communicating with others.   
(Also see
TIPS on how to be  
more assertive)

Most of us use all four of these
styles, to varying degrees, in our
daily interactions.
Klaas Tuinman M.A.
Life Self-Empowerment Facilitation
at Dawn Cove Abbey
Comments and Questions are welcomed