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Four Ways Assertiveness Can Improve Your Relationship

There are many people in this world who believe that keeping people happy is easier than dealing with a disagreement.  While that might be true, as a result these people can spend a good portion of their lives not getting any of the things that they want from life at all. While is it certainly a good thing to be considerate of the feelings of others, it is possible that too much consideration can force you to give up a portion of yourself and turn you into a push-over.

Build Your Assertiveness Skills in Your Relationship

Assertiveness is defined as the middle point between passivity and aggression.  When a person is assertive, he or she will exhibit some of the qualities of aggression, but these qualities are tempered by some of the qualities of passivity.  For example, people who are aggressive are generally motivated by the desire to “win” whatever the stakes are in the situation at hand.  People who are passive are usually overwhelmingly considerate of the feelings of others to the point where they have no opinions at all.  Assertiveness is a nice blend of these qualities.  The Mayo Clinic says that assertiveness mean that you “express yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view, while also respecting the rights and beliefs of others.”

In order to start getting some of the things that you want and being more effective in your communication with your partner, you will need to start practicing your assertiveness, the middle ground between aggression and passivity.  When you are passive in a situation, you may be doing something because you feel that you should.  This can lead you to resent the situation and the person who is asking things of you.  When you use aggression to force someone else to do something that you want, the other party can start to resent you.  The middle ground is assertiveness.  Assertiveness and effective communication can lead to less resentment and more enjoyment.

Here are four steps you can take to start making the transition into being more assertive with your partner.

1. Talk to Your Partner

Change is difficult for everyone. There is obviously going to be a bit of push back since your partner is likely used to getting his or her own way all the time. Since your assertiveness project is going to affect both of you, it is going to be important that your partner understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.  This will probably be your first exercise in assertive conversation.

2. Stop Blaming or Accusing

This might actually be the hardest part of your new assertiveness project. When you feel like you do not have any power, placing blame and accusation can make you feel better.  These are the things that you hold on to.  They make you feel like so much of what has happened is the fault of someone else.  Placing blame can be comforting in a way when you are feeling powerless.  Letting go of those feelings can be difficult, but it can be done.

3. The Heart of Assertiveness is an “I” Statement

The “I” statement is the most powerful tool an assertive person has. When you tell your partner how you are feeling about a situation, start by saying what you feel.  “I get frustrated when you choose a movie without asking my opinion so let’s find a movie we both will like.”  “It upsets my stomach when we have chili for dinner so I am going to make a sandwich.”  These may seem like little things, but they can make a big difference in your life when you start to feel like you have a more equal power balance.

4. Practice Makes Progress

No one is perfect, but assertiveness is a complex skill. It will take a while to master the nuances of being assertive when you have not been before.  This is where your partner can really support you.  He or she can help you by asking your opinion and giving you the opportunity to answer without judgment.  You will need to remember to say what you are feeling and still be mindful of your partner and anyone else’s feelings.  There is no reason why you cannot find the middle ground where you and your partner are both happy and compromising.

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