msn encarta dictionary:
as·ser·tive [ ə súrtiv ]
1. acting confidently: confident in stating a position or claim
Modern education encourages the assertive student.
2. strong and pronounced: forcefully strong and noticeable
Wikipedia, the free Encyclopidia:
Assertiveness is a trait taught by many personal development experts and psychotherapists and the subject of many popular self-help books. It is linked to self-esteem and considered an important communication skill.
As a communication style and strategy, assertiveness is distinguished from aggression and passivity. How people deal with personal boundaries; their own and those of other people, helps to distinguish between these three concepts. Passive communicators do not defend their own personal boundaries and thus allow aggressive people to harm or otherwise unduly influence them. They are also typically not likely to risk trying to influence anyone else. Aggressive people do not respect the personal boundaries of others and thus are liable to harm others while trying to influence them. A person communicates assertively by not being afraid to speak his or her mind or trying to influence others, but doing so in a way that respects the personal boundaries of others. They are also willing to defend themselves against aggressive incursions.
How do you rank?
I was raised Mennonite. Assertiveness; easily confused with, or connected to aggression; was not encouraged. We were about passivity. We were about believing that people of influence were right, to be trusted, and not to be overtly questioned. That made things tidy and uncomplicated for our teachers, administraters, preachers, doctors, and politicians.
That was then; and this is now.
But the cloak of assertion wears clumsily on me. Guilt follows closely on its' heels as I evaluate and re-evaluate on whether it was indeed assertion, or its dreaded cousin; aggression. The desire to please people and keep the peace, even at the cost of my real beliefs and convictions wars in my body.
I tend to think that this awkwardness comes from attempting to learn assertion as a new skill. A new language. If I had grown up learning the language of appropriate assertiveness, would I be less hyper-sensitive to the affects it has on people around me; whether perceived or real? Have I so defined myself in keeping others happy that I suffer guilt for advocating for myself or my children? Is it the ol' Menno-Martyr syndrome rearing its covered head?
Sticking my virtual neck out here. Anyone brave enough to leave a comment about your own experiences and mistakes along the way of learning to be a little more forward; a little less of a doormat?