How to stand for yourself: Assertiveness

In the aftermath of trauma, it is common to have difficulties establishing positive relationships with others. It may be hard to trust, feel secure or overcome feelings of shame. In order to handle the interpersonal implications of trauma, it is fundamental to find and re-store healthy relationships. But that is only possible when we learn how to respect ourselves and our needs. It is a challenging balance between seeking support and closeness from the ones we trust and setting clear boundaries. Assertive communication is a healthy way to improve the way you feel around others and allow you to build better relationships.

What is assertiveness?

Assertiveness means expressing your point of view in a clear and direct way while still respecting others. Communicating in an assertive manner can help you to minimize conflict, to control anger, to have your needs better met, and to have more positive relationships with friends, family, and others.

How to be assertive?

  • State your point of view or request clearly.
  • Learn how to say NO without feeling guilty. It may be hard sometimes, but it is worth trying.
  • Respect your own pace when interacting with others.
  • Draw some boundaries; don’t let others in your private sphere unless you really want to. Let in only those you trust and feel comfortable with.
  • Ask for help! It may be difficult, but that’s the only way to let others know that you may need them/support.
  • Tell the other person how you feel and remember to listen to what they say as well.
  • Tone and volume of voice: how you say it is as important as what you say. Speak at a normal conversation volume, rather than a shout or whisper, and make sure that you sound firm but not aggressive.
  • Make sure your body language matches your words- your listener will get mixed messages if you are speaking firmly while looking at the floor.
  • Try to look the other person in the eye, stand tall, and relax your face.
  • Try to avoid exaggerating with words like always and never. For example: You are 20 minutes late and it is the third time this week, rather than: You are always late!
  • Try to speak with facts rather than judgements.
  • Use “I Statements” as much as possible, to tell the other person how you feel rather than be accusing.
  • Practice often - assertiveness is a skill which requires you to practice in many different situations.

If you want to know more about how to become more assertive, please click on the links below*-at-is-Assertiveness.pdf