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5 Vines About Assertiveness Vs Rigidity That You Need to Know

Being assertive or rigid, there’s a fine line between the two. One must learn to differentiate between the two to make the right choice.

Many of you may have heard of being assertive, especially during your training or maybe someone has given you feedback in the past that you must learn to be assertive.

However, during the process of becoming assertive without proper guidance and coaching, we sometimes end up becoming more rude and rigid towards others, gaining their thumbs down instead of a positive response.

Do you often relate to this concept when someone approaches you and asks you to assist him/her with something, and your response, rather than explaining why you can't help them right now, gives the impression that "She is rude or why is he like that?"

This could be because either you do not completely understand the meaning of being assertive, or if you know, maybe you are using it in the wrong manner by not identifying the fine line between being assertive and rigid, which ultimately creates a negative impression of you.

Many people I have come across in the past usually have difficulties saying no! Or expressing them positively. This is because you are more concerned about what the other person will think about you if you say no, or you may lose your job or friend, which comes out of an insecurity you are holding inside.

Let’s first try to understand what assertiveness is, and after that, we will shed some light on how to apply the techniques practiced in your daily life.

"Assertiveness is basically sharing your needs, wants, or feelings with respect and integrity for self and others, yet treating others well the way you want others to treat you." Further Assertiveness teaches you and allows you to have control over your behavior by not being too aggressive, agitated, egoistic, or over-emotional. You must avoid such behavior to control other people’s actions when you are dealing with them. This is the biggest challenge where most people fail when they see they cannot convince others to act the way they want.

Assertiveness is not going to change you but help you learn important techniques and apply them in daily life to lead a happy, joyful, contented life with yourself and others around you without disrespecting others yet making them understand your priorities in a positive manner, hence, maintaining your own integrity and dignity. However, not everywhere and with everyone, you need to be assertive. You will surely identify where to say no and where you can accept what is being offered to you, be it work, an invitation to a dinner or party, or something you may not like to be a part of. So basically, you will be able to identify that fine line.

Let’s discuss a few traits below from which you can try to match the symptoms or expressions you often use to identify where you fall in the below-mentioned categories and if you are assertive or not.

Do you frequently avoid conflict, have a fear of rejection, are unable to share honest criticism, or are afraid of becoming unloved, and eventually end up saying yes to the other person despite having no freewill choice in the matter? 

If your answer to this is ‘yes’, then you are "Non-Assertive" because you often make others' needs and priorities your own.

Do you often end up in conflicts/get aggressive while expressing your needs or become more controlling over the other to make them say and act the way you want? 

If your answer to this is ‘yes’, then you are "aggressive" because you are habitual of forcing others to do what you want them to do by creating your fear or forceful value. You are not respecting their "freewill choice".

Do you believe in win-win situations where while expressing your own needs, you are still open to others having their own needs and opinions too? 

Hence, you are open to accepting their feedback and respecting their free-will choices too. Hence, choose an option that will benefit both and serve the needs of both parties. If your answer to this is ‘yes’, then you are ‘assertive’ because you not only know how to express your needs and priorities but you respect others' choices and opinions too, without hurting them in any way. You are willing to reach a resolution where both of you can benefit from it. Being assertive not only helps you maintain good relations but also creates an influence and respect for you in others' opinions.

Let’s do a small exercise here:

  • Take a piece of paper and a pen or pencil.
  • Write down the question—Do I really have the right to become assertive?
  • Write down your answer and, once you are done, read it and see what you have written.

Is it a straight no or yes with various conditions and answers like my parents told me it’s being selfish, my friends told me it’s being rude, or I think if I become assertive, people may not love me, accept me, or want to talk to me, etc. etc.

So, what’s your answer?

Some tips to take your first step towards becoming Assertive:

Value and love yourself - Let us re-analyze your answer now. Ask yourself, if you fear rejection or becoming unloved, will you be who you are? Will everyone ever know about the "Authentic You"? No! They will never be able to know the original or authentic you. The way you have been created or the way you must lead your life is unique. There is always a Law of Give And Receive and if by being non-assertive you continue to only give and never ask in return to respect your choices, opinions, or understanding your preferences too, then you are doing injustice to your own self. And believe me, no one will come to you even to ask you if you need anything if you will not make your own self-hold the right kind of value for your own self and others. People will be able to recognize you, your potential, and your real nature only when you start respecting yourself without harming anyone. This first step always comes by identifying the need for self-love & care and prioritizing your own self before anyone else.

Learn to Take a Stand for Yourself You must learn to speak up for yourself and take a stand when you believe in your ideas, your emotions, and the things you really care about, no matter if anyone else is supporting you or not. If it’s worth it, take a stand! Be a one-man or woman's army!

Respect Others Rights too – While being assertive allows you to respect your own rights and needs, do not forget that others' rights, opinions, and ideas also hold equal importance. Make sure you are not harming or ignoring others' rights to fulfill yours.

You Always Have the Option to Say Yes or No - Recognize the significance of your free will; unless you strongly feel a yes, only then commit to it; otherwise, make it a clear no with a reasonable enough reason to say no at the very least. Maybe someone wants you to join them for a party, but you prefer to spend time with your family, so be assertive and say no. Example – "Thank you, Bill, for the invitation. However, on weekends I prefer to stay with my family. I won’t be able to attend your party this time. We will catch up some other time!"

Be Confident with your choices and decisions - People often try to confuse you or manipulate your thoughts or confidence, so beware. Always believe in yourself, your choices and decisions and be firm with them unless you believe it is not going to work. Take a stand for your decisions too!

When someone comes to you with problems, requests, advice, or even feedback about you, you have the choice to accept it or not. Constructive feedback is always appreciated as an opportunity to improvise, but if it is not at all acceptable, then you always have the choice and right to reject it assertively. If you think it is not good enough to interfere in someone else’s decisions and life, then say no! Remember your boundaries were to step in and where to avoid harming someone’s privacy.

The following picture will help you understand it more quickly:

So, if someone is constantly trying to make you believe you are not worth it, or you are dumb, or you can’t do it, or you may fail, take a stand. Stick with your firm decision to go ahead with your idea and courage. Yes, be courageous too. It will help you take a stand for yourself.

You are the master of your own life! If you truly want to become an assertive person, you must take the initiative to enroll in a professional assertiveness training program. It will certainly help you a lot. However, till then, you may try to apply the things we discussed in this article to start off with.


Sakshi Vaashiisht

Corporate Trainer/Coach/Facilitator, Content Writer, and Public Speaker

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