How many times have you overheard an argument or other exchange and thought one or both parties was being rude? How often have you wanted to stand up for something you believe in, but have balked at the idea because you thought you might come across as being rude? There is a thin, often indiscernible line between being assertive and being rude. Oftentimes the terms are used interchangeably, but they are in fact quite different. It is possible to be one without being the other. And by the end of this piece you should understand how you can harness your power and be effectively assertive while still being mindful of others.
What is the difference between someone who is assertive and someone who is just plain rude? Assertiveness is being able to stand up for your own or other people’s rights, thoughts, and ideas in a calm and positive way, without being either aggressive or offensive. It is the ability to say what you want and need, while still having respect for all parties involved. Someone who is rude tends to ask for what they want in a way that completely disregards the feelings, beliefs, and viewpoints of the other person. These people often harness internal anger verbalizing their wants and needs in a sarcastic and dominant manner.
So, how can you be assertive without coming across as a you-know-what? Start by defining what is that you want from the situation. Then express how you feel, but be mindful of the language that you use. Make sure you are using “I” language instead of “you” language. “I” language gives you ownership of your feelings and doesn’t allow room for argument, because no one can tell you how you do or don’t feel. Do this from a place of respect, not only for yourself but also the person/persons you are engaging with.
Finally, describe how the outcome will benefit everyone involved. People are hardwired to desire a return on their investments. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are much more inclined to do something if it benefits us as well. So, be honest. If you’re asking for a raise, describe how earning more will increase your productivity. If you want your significant other to clean up after themselves, be clear that is because it will allow you to spend more time together.
Being assertive doesn’t have to be challenging. And you can absolutely accomplish it without being rude. You can get what you want by standing up for what you believe in and knowing you deserve it.