Assertiveness Skills - do they work?

Do Assertiveness Skills Work?

It can be rather daunting to think that in really difficult and stressful situations assertiveness is the best approach.

You'll hear the assertiveness training experts give such advice as:

Stand your ground

Just say no

Act as though you're in control, even if you don't feel it

Great advice if you're feeling assertive.

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But You're Not Assertive

What if you feel like a complete wimp, unable to even open your mouth, let alone have something clear, direct and impactful come out?

There are times when assertiveness skills are indeed appropriate - when standing your ground makes good sense.

But you need a different kind of practise before you're able to behave that way.

Teaching you the right things to say is not the answer; giving you lists of appropriate ways of behaving isn't the answer either.

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What is Getting in Your Way?

When you're in difficulties and you feel like a rabbit in the headlights, not much is going to feel like helping other than to be transported out of the situation, fast.

It is by far and away better to look at what gets in the way of your being able to behave in a self-supportive and assertive way.

What's needed here is not assertiveness skills per se, but rather assertiveness training that helps to identify the feelings that stop you doing and saying what you would really like to you, before you're thrown to the lions.

No amount of training and practice is going to make these feelings disappear like magic, that's just not going to happen.

What you can work on, however, is those things that you are still able to do despite feeling awkward, frightened, guilty or whatever.

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Assertiveness Strategies

You can also work on assertiveness strategies that may at first look unassertive, like giving in, but will, in the long run, get you what you want.

One of the assertiveness strategies you can work on is techniques to get you out of the situation long enough to be able to think straight.

This can be as simple as saying

"Would you excuse me a moment, I've just got to make a quick trip to the bathroom."

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Positive Running Away

This is a constructive form of 'running away' which many people find they are able to do even in the most extreme circumstances.

What's so great about working with practical things, things that you feel able to do is that you don't need a personality transplant in order to do them.

And by beginning to deal assertively with situations and getting small 'wins' to boost your confidence, you will pave the way to choosing more appropriate ways to behave, be it through assertiveness skills training or otherwise.

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