By Luis S. R. Vas July 2004 Test and sharpen your assertiveness skills Explanation of the answers 1. The assertive person is not afraid to say no. She or he feels free to make choices. 2. The assertive person takes responsibility for getting his or her needs met. Fear of seeming ignorant does not prevent the assertive person from asking questions. 3. The assertive person takes responsibility for his or her own behaviour but does not take responsibility for the behaviour of others or for situations which are beyond his or her control. To feel responsible for things beyond your control leads to unnecessary feelings of guilt. 4. Direct eye contact is assertive and suggests sincerity, self-confidence and the expectation that others will listen. 5. An assertive person wants to be heard. 6. An assertive person does not allow status to intimidate him or her. 7. Good posture communicates a positive self-image. When posture is limited by a disability, good eye contact and facial expression can be used to express a positive self-image. 8. The assertive person works to get his or her needs met and does not let situations build to the point of crisis. 9. The assertive person is able to ask for help without feeling dependent because he or she maintains a strong sense of self worth and self-respect. 10. Telling someone off is an angry, aggressive response. The assertive person would state that he or she is irritated by the unfairness and ask the person to move to the end of the line.Raise your assertiveness rating Whatever your rating in the quiz remember that assertiveness is an acquired skill. It is the middle path between aggressive and passive behaviour. You are neither a bully demanding that others do your bidding nor do you accept whatever is demanded of you. You can learn to be assertive if you: • Decide that you want to be assertive rather than aggressive or passive. • Think about a recent conflict and imagine how you could have handled it in a more assertive way. • Practise talking in an assertive way alone or with a friend. • Respect the wants, needs and feelings of others, and accept that their viewpoints may be different from yours. • Take a problem-solving approach to conflict, and try to see the other person as your collaborator rather than your opposition. • Tell the other person honestly how you feel, without making accusations or trying to make them feel guilty. • Use assertive language such as ‘I feel’ and ‘I think’, rather than aggressive language such as ‘You always’ and ‘You never’. • Don’t interrupt others when they are talking, and try hard to listen and understand their point of view. • Suggest that you brainstorm ways to solve the problem together. • If the exchange doesn’t go well, learn from the experience and plan how you will do things a little differently next time. • Posture: when asserting yourself, keep your head, and your voice level. Refuse to be goaded into yelling back. • Tell the person you’ll take up the subject again at another time, and leave. • If you decide to stick it out—remain calm, steer the conversation back to the original point, and try to understand the other person’s point of view. • Appreciate that there may be other issues motivating their behaviour. • Don’t take heat-of-the-moment criticisms to heart. Tick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in response to the questions below. 1. Do you buy things you do not want because you are afraid to say no to the salesperson? Yes No 2. When you do not understand the meaning of a word, do you ask about it? Yes No 3. Do you feel responsible when things go wrong, even if it is not your fault? Yes No 4. Do you look directly at others when you talk to them? Yes No 5. Do people often ask you to speak more loudly in order to be heard? Yes No 6. Do you feel intimidated by people in authority? Yes No 7. Do you generally have good posture? Yes No 8. Do you often feel so angry you could scream? Yes No 9. Do you know how to ask for help without feeling dependent? Yes No 10. If someone cuts in front of you in a line, do you usually tell them off? Yes No
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