Handout 4: Assertiveness rights
(Taken from Management Review, August 1982)
Fundamental to a proper level of assertiveness is a belief in these basic rights:
1. Assertive people believe that individuals have the right to be treated with respect. They value others as well as themselves and desire fairness in interpersonal relationships. They feel that personal relationships are damaged when one tries to control others through guilt, hostility, or intimidation. Individuals who demean others also demean themselves; everyone loses as a result.
2. Assertive people think that individuals have the right to promote their dignity and self-respect, as long as the rights of others are not violated in the process.
3. Assertive people believe individuals are entitled to defend themselves. They consider that when people frequently subordinate or relinquish their rights, others take advantage of them. When individuals express their honest thoughts and feelings directly and appropriately, everyone benefits.
4. Assertive people encourage others to express their ideas. In fact, they believe that not letting others know one's thoughts is a form of selfishness, because personal relationships can only become truly meaningful when individuals openly share their ideas.
5. Assertive people believe that individuals have the right to express their feelings about how other's behavior affects them. By verbalizing how they perceive other people's behavior, assertive people let other know where they stand -- and give them opportunity to change. Not letting people know how one feels about their behavior is just as inconsiderate as not listening to their thoughts and feelings.
6. Assertive people consider that individuals have the right to make their needs known. When someone else feels downtrodden, put-upon, mistreated, or indignant, assertive people believe he or she has the right to attempt to rectify the situation and to seek personal satisfaction. By allowing others to acknowledge their own needs, assertive people feel good about themselves and gain self-respect, as well as that of others.
7. Assertive people think that individuals have the right to' take sufficient time to consider complex problems, to ask for information, and to change their minds when necessary. They are receptive to new ways of thinking, and do not seek pat answers or magical gimmicks to solve perplexing problems.
8. Assertive people believe individuals have the right to choose whether or not to change their behavior to please others, and the right to say "no" without feeling guilty. They want to be liked by others but are not seriously upset if they are not.
9. Assertive people even believe that individuals have the right not to assert themselves at times. People are entitled to establish their own priorities, to make mistakes, to suffer the consequences, and to be the ultimate judges of their own actions.
The key to developing responsible assertive behavior is realizing and accepting these rights. Although rights have limitations and bring with them responsibilities, accepting assertive rights is crucial to the process of expanding human potential.
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