Lack of assertiveness is almost the British condition – do you ever say sorry when someone treads on your foot? Lack of assertiveness often leads to problems with anger, either with oneself or with the person you failed to be assertive with. Assertiveness training is often part of other therapy (often when dealing with low self-esteem, anger or many of the anxiety disorders) or can be dealt with in a three week group.
"Assertiveness" is a word that we therapists have pinched and repurposed. The dictionary definitions include given to making assertions or bold demands; dogmatic or aggressive. Well it certainly isn't that! Assertiveness is about being able to make requests of others to change their behaviours in order that you get your needs met and without negative emotional fallout for you.
The training includes:
- understanding what assertiveness is
- understanding what assertiveness isn't
- recognizing one's own unassertive behaviours (too passive, too aggressive or manipulative)
- barriers to being assertive
- your rights
- understanding and dealing with criticism
Putting this into practice is done in homework, by experimenting with behaving differently and seeing how the results differ from your predictions