- September 1, 2018
- Posted by: MAYURI
- Category: Articles
Assertiveness is staying steadfast on to one’s own ideas and ideals. Taking a stand and having the courage to admit it and live by it, saying ‘No’ when it is seems wrong to self .
How much of this is good? Too much assertiveness breaks relationships. Too little, breaks you!
All around us we see the evidences of both. One among the interactive group is allowed to be assertive while others are bound to follow this person in any conventional social context. The boss in the office, the patriarch in the joint family, the leader in the tribe, the minister in the political arena and so on…
It is assumed that balance in social interactions is maintained if this process is followed.
But is it true? Many examples are there to see that this is not the case. Human beings are not likely to tacitly accept one authority. Everyone wants to have their say, assert themselves.
Here are some common examples:
- The romantic relationships are big examples; the boy wants the girl and he asserts his right to be loved, and if she rejects…there are a wide range of violent actions that he can inflict on her and her family.
- With regard to marriage, the society too is getting assertive of who should marry whom and violence is erupting if this balance is not maintained!
- The modern marriages are going through crises because neither the husband nor the wife is willing to yield the ground. The outcomes are plenty; domestic violence, both verbal and physical, desertion, divorce and in disturbingly frequent occurrences murder too!
- Young people change jobs frequently because they don’t want to put up with assertive and arrogant bosses, who will not allow them to take a stand and stick to it.
- Even young children are rebelling against authoritarian parents who do not allow for assertiveness.
- At random places on the streets we often see fights where one person wants to assert himself while the other too does not yield ground. Road rage is one big consequence as a fall out of this attitude.
- Social order requires that only one person in an interpersonal context exercise assertion, or else relationships suffer. This has been the problem in our society for generations. We are finding it hard to train our men and women in meeting each other’s demands half way, compromising on part of their ground.
- Being largely still a patriarchal system, men assume the figure of authority and assert themselves; women must fall in line. Tragically for men this is not happening any more. Better social status in terms of education and employment and financial independence has brought about a new confidence in modern young women, who assert themselves often.
- The responsibility of maintaining the balance in relationships lies with the subdued and not the asserter. This is leading to many a conflict in families and offices and even in public life
- The asserter and authority figure finds it impossible to change himself… this is not true…people can change their ways of dealing with relationships and must do so whatever the effort
The subdued are a sorry lot. Too much of assertiveness around them, too many persons making demands that they cannot seem to fulfill, brings about the following problems for the constantly subdued persons:
- Low self esteem: sense of self worth is the foremost personality attribute that suffers a body blow when a person is constantly subdued due to authoritative persons asserting their view in all situations in life. The person has very poor opinion about her own ability to do anything independently or do it well.
- Dependency: because of poor sense of self esteem, sense of self efficacy too suffers greatly and therefore this person becomes dependent on others for most things in life.
- Depression: the bane of modern society, depression has assumed the position of a high health risk ailment in large measure due to unhappy living circumstances in people’s lives. There are other important reasons for depression, but struggling against unreasonable levels of authoritarian assertiveness is among the main causes of clinical depression among people.
- Fatalistic attitude: the subdued are likely to see themselves as not instrumental in anything that’s happening in their lives. They assume to have lost control of life itself. Consequently, the fatalistic attitude that nothing is in their hands and they are simply being propelled in some direction but are unable to do anything about it persists. ‘Will take whatever fate has in store for me’ attitude develops and they tend to become unhappy spectators of their own life.
Can something be done? Yes, by both the asserter and the subdued.
By the asserter
- Characteristics of chronic asserters indicates that they are low on emotional intelligence traits such as empathy, sympathy, gratefulness, respect, affection, kindness, graciousness and so on, which are crucial for good interpersonal interactions. Conscious effort to develop these traits must be made.
- Chronic asserters are bad listeners… they like their voices and talk all the time, make demands, give instructions, criticize and in general keep pointing out what they expect from others. They must stop, take a deep breath and ask to find out if the other has something to say…and listen… very educative it can be for them.
- Chronic asserters assume they know everything about the other and need not know anything more…this is certainly a fallacy. Nobody knows everything about anybody. We all know something about the other. Only when the other gets a chance to put forward her/ his views, can we get to know them better.
- Chronic asserters make grave mistakes in life more often than not, since they do not take ideas or advice from others, assuming that they are good at all things than the others. Stopping to consider others views is important lesson in their life.
- These persons, having got used to being asserting, often use this trait indiscriminatingly. There are situations when one needs to exercise assertiveness and then there are situations where it is not so important. Leaving such situations to the others will vastly improve interpersonal relationships.
By the subdued
- Make conscious effort to speak up… stop the other midsentence if necessary…raise voice…cultivate good diction and vocabulary…organize ideas well… and give back. All this takes a lot of effort. But realize nothing comes easily, certainly not respect for oneself.
- Work on self esteem, it’s an important part of your personality and no one has a right to pull it down.
- The signs and symptoms of depression have to be understood… realize as early as possible if you are getting into depression and immediately seek professional help as well as help from well wishers.
- Do not get into fatalistic attitude… realize that the asserter is asserting himself because you are allowing him to do so. While it is important to maintain peace around, it cannot be at the expense of one getting into suicidal depression!
- The subdued are often found to leave all situational decisions to the more assertive person, but there are situations in which they must take a stand and fight for their ideas. This needs courage and one must develop the trait.
- Move away from this person, get out of that office, or that relationship if situation becomes unbearable and circumstances permit. If not turn back and give back in equal measure, never too much or too little. The balance can be restored only when people function on equal footing in interpersonal relationships and communication.
This is not to encourage separations in interpersonal relationships or breaking up office environments. This is to make people realise that all interpersonal interactions must be on equal footing, there needs to be give and take, cooperation and constructive communication. Unequal relationships anywhere are detrimental to human wellbeing.