Assertiveness is the key to getting what you want. When you can truly speak with assertively, the world will open up. In this article you’ll learn why that is, as well as what assertive communication really is. You’ll also learn what assertive communication is not, and why “pretending” to be assertive can be less than beneficial.
Secrets of Exchange
First of all, when you are assertive, you’ll tap one of the secrets of human existence. Humans are born to exchange with one another. This goes beyond economic trade. Our whole beings are based on exchange.
Even when you’re all alone, your behavior is largely based on exchange. If you need to go to the bathroom, for example, you’ll quickly, and unconsciously, determine how much pleasure you’d expect to feel upon relieving yourself, compared to how much effort it would take to get it done, as well as the potential risks.
If you’re sitting there alone in your home, that’s an easy decision. If you are in your warm bed in a cold night, it’s not such an easy decision. If you are camping, and you’re in a warm sleeping bag inside of a warm tent, it’s a much more difficult decision.
The basic truth of human nature is that we are always looking out into the future, on an unconscious and conscious level, and trying to set up an exchange so we get a better “state” of existence.
Because being warm and having to relieve yourself is almost the same as leaving your safe tent and going out into the cold outdoors, this is a difficult decision. The benefit is just barely better than the effort it will take to achieve it.
Human interactions work the same way. Like it or not, all of our interactions follow this same model. You hang out with the people who you get more than you put in.
They are easy to be with, you feel safe and comfortable, and based on your subjective values, you get a better return than the efforts you receive.
Here’s the best part: The very reason you are friends with them is they feel the same way. They benefit by being with you, and they feel they are getting more than they’re putting in.
This is the magic of interpersonal exchange, and is the fundamental principal of all economic exchange as well.
The only reason you every buy something, or sell something, is you feel you are getting the better part of the deal, as well as does the other person.
So, what does this all have to do with assertive communication?
When you speak assertively, you are communicating your true self, while simultaneously accepting the true selves of others.
This will give you the best possible chances of finding somebody open for a “win-win” exchange, whether it be a new friend, romantic interest, or business partner.
When you don’t speak assertively, when you speak passively or aggressively, you aren’t honestly and congruently representing yourself.
Both Are Based On Fear
Both passive and aggressive communication are based on fear. The passive person is afraid to speak their truth, for fear of rejection, so he tones down his message, and tries to shape it based on how he “thinks” the other person will respond.
Nowhere is this more evident than in “nice guy” behavior, specifically to meeting girls. The “nice guy” would really like to meet an interesting girl, express himself and have a great relationship.
But in reality, he’s afraid of rejection, so he communicates and behaves in a way that he “thinks” will keep him from getting rejected.
The paradox is that while this may not get him rejected outright, it will significantly decrease his chances of getting accepted in the way he wants.
On the flip side of the coin is aggressive behavior. This is also based on fear, but instead of being nice and compliant to avoid rejection, you are being more like a bully. The bully speaks and acts with aggression to hopefully make others afraid to reject him.
This also has it’s obvious drawbacks. People generally don’t like being with this kind of person, unless they feel they are “protected” by him.
This is why you’ll often see overly passive people in relationships with overly aggressive people.
These “co-dependent” relationships are surprisingly based on the same ideas of exchange. Both are afraid of rejection, and by being with each other, both are seemingly protected from rejection.
But both are also significantly decreasing their opportunities. So long as they are together, they are OK.
But if they ever separate, they’re in big trouble. The passive person needs to find somebody with just the right level of aggression, and the aggressive person needs to find somebody with just the right level of passivity.
One is looking for a victim, while the other is looking to be a victim.
Not very healthy, to say the least.
The Magic Of Assertiveness
So, what’s the alternative? Simple. Be assertive.
Of course, nobody said this was easy. For many of us, it’s easier, and feels safer, to either be passive or aggressive, or an oscillation between the two, as many of us are.
But the great paradox is that we act aggressively or passively to avoid rejection. This is a paradox because when you’re truly assertive, you’ll never get rejected.
Because assertive behavior is not only speaking your truth, what you want, need and desire, but also accepting the truth of others as well.
And when you accept that they have every right to turn you down, just like you have every right to ask for what you want, the sting of rejection will vanish.
Only when you attach any perceived value of yourself to their acceptance does potential rejection become fearful.
When you approach every interaction as a truly assertive person, fully knowing they may not be interested in any kind of “exchange,” you’ll finally discover the truth.
And that is that there are a lot more people out there that want exactly what you have than you can possibly realize.
All you’ve got to do is ask.
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