Explain Benefits of Assertiveness

The counselor explains the benefits of assertiveness:

C: Assertiveness is the most effective way to let others know what’s going on or what effect their behavior has. By expressing themselves, assertive people resolve uncomfortable feelings that otherwise build up. Because being assertive often results in correcting a source of stress and tension, it can lead to feeling more in control of life. Assertive people do not feel like victims of circumstances. However, their goals can’t be met in all situations; it isn’t possible to control how another person will respond. Nevertheless, behaving assertively has two benefits: it increases the chances that goals will be met, and it makes people feel better about their role in the situation.

Introduce Skill Guidelines

The counselor explains that the guidelines in Assertiveness (form 9F) can help the client become assertive:

C: Take a moment to think before you speak. What did the other person do or say? Try not to assume the other person’s intentions. Don’t assume that he or she knows your mind. Plan the most effective way to make statements. Be specific and direct. Address the problem without bringing in other issues. Be positive. Don’t put others down; blaming others makes them defensive and less likely to hear your message.

Pay attention to your body language: eye contact, posture, gestures, facial expression, and tone of voice. Make sure your words and your expression communicate the same message. To get your point across, speak firmly and be aware of your appearance.

Be willing to compromise. Let others know that you’re willing to work things out. No one has to leave the situation feeling as if he or she has lost everything. Try to find a way for everyone to win. Give others your full attention when they reply, try to understand their views, and seek clarification. If you disagree, have a discussion. Don’t dominate or submit to others. Strive for equality in the relationship. If you feel you’re not being heard, restate your assertion.

Persistence and consistency are necessary parts of assertiveness. Changing the way you respond requires effort. The first step is to become aware of habitual responses and make an effort to change. The most difficult situations in which to respond assertively are those that may end with negative consequences. Examine the thoughts that prevent you from acting assertively (“My boss will fire me if I can’t work overtime because I have my counseling session”).

This examination uses many skills we discussed under managing thoughts about marijuana:

Determine the thought or fear. What am I afraid will happen? What’s the worst that could happen?

Assess the probabilities. How likely is the negative consequence?

Evaluate the catastrophe. What would happen if the worst occurred? Would it really be so terrible?

Identify the rules. What assumptions and beliefs govern feelings?