The Psychology Behind Assertive Behaviour
Refine your communication skills by learning to harness your emotional intelligence with one of the UK's most acclaimed management training courses.
What gets in the way of developing and holding on to new communication skills are old habits of thinking and speaking. Even if the advice is very good the reason why it rarely sticks are the mental habits people inevitably revert to, especially under pressure.
Unlearning those old habits and internalising a more effective and lasting approach to communication needs more than a short course of lectures on how to do it.
What makes this training stand out is the exceptional support through one-to-one coaching sessions and continuous feedback. Changing behaviour is not an easy task as old habits are hard to break.
With a 40-year track record we can help you cultivate practical skills, and build your confidence to so you can successfully navigate real-world challenges, ensuring lasting behavioural improvements.
Join thousands of participants getting results
"What I love about this course is that I didn't just learn about the topic, this course is about ME. I'm confident I can reliably use my new skills, even when under pressure".
A Project Manager At A Tech Company
"A lesson for life! The power of effective communication is incredible when one masters the skills "listening with empathy" and "speaking assertively"
A Project Quality Engineer
Well-known companies who have used this course again and again, over many years
This course is designed to help you develop your communication style by incorporating assertiveness. You'll learn about the psychological aspects that underpin this emotoinal intelligence technique. You'll learn how to express thoughts, feelings, and needs respectfully, while considering the perspectives of others. Self-esteem and self-confidence play critical roles in assertive behaviour, and upbringing and cultural factors can influence assertiveness. Assertiveness training can help individuals overcome these ingrained patterns and promote healthier communication, regardless of their personality type.
You will learn a set of powerful emotional intelligence communication techniques so that you can manage difficult conversations, handle challenging situations, build relationships and set firm boundaries.
The goal of this training is to equip you with the tools they need to build strong, lasting relationships in your professional life, although because these skills are so transferable many clients report vast improvements in their personal relationships as well.
This is a skills development rather than just a theoretical programme, so the emphasis throughout will be on you taking turn after turn, practising your skills, while receiving feedback and coaching about your effect on others.
In your coaching sessions you will be helped to practise dealing with the kinds of situation you find challenging, again and again, until you are confident you can do it successfully.
We'll combine practical, hands-on experience with video replay and analysis and discussion of the principles involved to help you gain both skills and understanding. Special attention is paid to your individual training needs, so you can practise your skills in real-life situations that you have to handle at work.
That's why as well as your place in a small group, this training includes a generous amount of private and confidential one-to-one coaching sessions online, spread over several months, ensuring an exceptional level of support. This will ensure the changes you make are sustained over a longer period of time and any obstacles are overcome. Choose between online training available worldwide, or in-person face-to-face courses in the UK.
For a list of upcoming course dates (for online coaching and face-to-face training), the locations of the next 3-day public courses in the UK and pricing Click here.
This initial coaching session serves as an introduction to the "Skills with People" course, allowing you to understand the course's relevance and effectiveness for your specific needs before committing to it.
Being assertive allows you to successfully communicate your needs, wants, and views in both your personal and professional life. It means finding the correct balance between aggression and passivity to make sure your opinion is heard without infringing on the rights or limits of others.
The psychological underpinnings of assertiveness are established in social conditioning, self-confidence, and self-esteem. Knowing these elements can assist people in identifying and removing obstacles to assertive behaviour, resulting in more fruitful communication and healthier relationships.
Here we will explore the psychological, cognitive, behavioural, and neurological underpinnings of assertiveness in an effort to better understand the science behind it. Also, we'll go through the advantages of assertiveness in both personal and professional settings and offer helpful advice on how to practise being assertive.
Assertiveness is a communication style characterised by expressing one's thoughts, feelings, and needs openly, honestly, and respectfully. It involves standing up for oneself while considering the perspectives and rights of others, leading to more balanced and effective communication.
Self-esteem and self-confidence play critical roles in assertive behaviour. Those with high self-esteem value tend to value their own opinions and needs and are more likely to express them assertively. Conversely, those with low self-esteem may struggle to assert themselves, fearing disapproval or rejection.
Upbringing and cultural factors can significantly influence assertive behaviour. Social conditioning often encourages politeness and agreeability, leading some individuals to suppress their thoughts and feelings.
There is a perfectly good evolutionary explanation for why assertive behaviour tends to make people uncomfortable. When we used to live in tribes, our very survival hinged on our ability to be accepted by the rest of our tribe. If we did anything to upset other people, and jeopardise our place within the tribe we might literally be thrown to the wolves. This survival has become almost hard-wired and baked into our DNA. The possibility that we might step over some social line in the sand makes most people start to sweat. Consequently, most people feel uncomfortable saying anything that might go against the flow.
The assertiveness training taught on this course can help you overcome these ingrained patterns and promote healthier communication.
Assertiveness may vary depending on one's personality type. For example, extroverted individuals might be more naturally assertive, while introverts may need to develop these skills consciously. However, to benefit from the kind of assertiveness training taught on this course you don’t need to to understand your personality type, or that of the people you are talking to. It doesn’t help. It’s not necessary. You can learn to speak with honest and integrity regardless of whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert.
Negative thought patterns, or cognitive distortions, can hinder assertive behaviour. Examples include black-and-white thinking, catastrophising, and personalisation. Identifying and challenging these distortions can help promote assertiveness.
Cognitive restructuring involves identifying negative thought patterns and replacing them with more balanced, realistic alternatives. This technique can help individuals overcome barriers to assertive behaviour, leading to more effective communication.
Reinforcement and modelling can help develop assertive behaviour. Positive reinforcement, such as praise or rewards, can encourage assertive communication. Observing and emulating assertive role models can also be helpful. On this course you’ll be shown how to do so you’ll have something useful to model.
Practice and repetition are essential for developing assertive behaviour. Assertiveness is a skill. Just like any other skill regularly practicing assertive communication techniques can help you become more comfortable and confident in asserting yourself.
The brain plays a vital role in assertive behaviour, with various brain regions involved in decision-making, emotion regulation, and social interaction. However, it is not at all necessary to understanding the neuroscience of assertiveness in order to develop helpful strategies for enhancing assertive behaviour. In fact, in some cases it may get in your way as you’ll be focussed on entirely the wrong aspect of your relationship with the other person.
Stress and anxiety can negatively impact assertiveness, causing you to revert to passive or aggressive communication styles.
Stress and anxiety can significantly affect assertiveness by influencing an individual's thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. In particular, they can compromise an individual's ability to communicate effectively, make rational decisions, and maintain healthy relationships. Here are several ways stress and anxiety can hinder assertiveness and discuss some strategies to overcome these challenges.
When you become stressed or anxious, your body undergoes a series of physiological responses, including increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These responses are part of the body's fight-or-flight reaction, which prepares individuals to confront or avoid perceived threats. However, these physiological changes can make it difficult for you to think clearly, regulate their emotions, and communicate assertively. When this happens your ability to be receptive to reason and logic goes right out of the window. Once this happens to someone you’re talking to, the only way to get through to them is to calm them down. Empathy is an excellent tool for this. Assertiveness on it’s own will leave them more entrenched, because they’ll automatically become more defensive and unreachable.
Stress and anxiety can heighten emotional responses, such as fear, anger, or frustration, which can interfere with assertiveness. For instance, when you feel threatened or overwhelmed, you may struggle to control your emotions and may resort to passive or aggressive behaviour instead of assertive communication. These emotional responses can create barriers to effective communication, as you may find it challenging to express your needs, set boundaries, or resolve conflicts in a calm and respectful manner.
Taking a pause can help, but on its own it is unlikely to be sufficient because as soon as you revisit the stressful topic again then you’re likely to be repeatedly triggered. A more helpful way to deal with this is by learning how to acknowledge the stress. On this course you’ll learn how talking more openly with emotional intelligence can make a huge difference to the atmosphere.
Stress and anxiety can also impact cognitive functioning, leading to difficulties with concentration, decision-making, and problem-solving. These cognitive challenges can make it challenging for you to think rationally, consider multiple perspectives, and communicate assertively. For example, when under stress you may experience cognitive distortions, such as catastrophising or black-and-white thinking, which can impede their ability to assert themselves effectively. You can learn to challenge this kind of thinking, but you may need professional help to learn how to successfully master it.
Behaviourally, stress and anxiety can manifest as avoidance, withdrawal, or confrontation, all of which can hinder assertiveness. For instance, when you experience stress or anxiety you may avoid difficult conversations, withdraw from social interactions, or become confrontational in an attempt to protect themselves or regain control. These behavioural responses can further exacerbate communication difficulties and negatively impact relationships.
Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation, can help you manage stress and anxiety. These practices promote self-awareness and self-regulation, enabling you to recognise and respond to your emotions and thoughts more effectively, ultimately supporting assertive communication.
Cognitive restructuring techniques, such as those used in cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), can help you identify and challenge cognitive distortions that contribute to stress, anxiety, and unassertive behaviour. By replacing irrational thoughts with more balanced perspectives, you can better manage their stress and anxiety and communicate more assertively.
Developing emotional regulation skills, such as identifying and expressing emotions, can help individuals manage stress and anxiety and enhance assertiveness. By learning to recognise and appropriately express your emotions, you can maintain assertive communication even in challenging situations.
You may learn assertiveness and manage with stress and anxiety by asking for social assistance from others. You may learn new perspectives, create new solutions, and hone your assertiveness by exchanging experiences, talking about difficulties, and getting feedback.
Assertiveness leads to more open, honest, and direct communication, resulting in stronger personal and professional connections. Misunderstandings may be reduced and mutual understanding can be improved by speaking your mind and feeling with clarity and respect.
Assertiveness leads to more open, honest, and direct communication, resulting in stronger personal and professional relationships. By expressing your thoughts and feelings clearly and respectfully, misunderstandings can be minimised, and mutual understanding enhanced.
By encouraging rational, balanced thinking and effective communication, assertiveness can enhance decision-making and problem-solving abilities. Those who are assertive may express their wants and viewpoints more clearly, which promotes consensus-building and teamwork.
Developing assertiveness can boost self-esteem and self-confidence, as individuals learn to value their own thoughts, feelings, and needs. This increased self-assurance can lead to greater personal and professional success.
Assertive behaviour can help reduce stress and improve mental health by enabling individuals to express their needs and set boundaries effectively. This can prevent resentment from building up and help resolve issues before they escalate into more significant conflicts.
Self-reflection is crucial for developing assertiveness. By examining personal communication styles and barriers to assertiveness, individuals can set realistic goals for improvement.
Assertiveness training can include various techniques and exercises, such as role-playing, rehearsing assertive statements, and non-judgmental emotionally intelligent statements. These can help you become more comfortable and confident in asserting yourself. For help on this click this link.
For some people, professional help may be necessary to develop assertive behaviour fully. This course is run by a qualified therapist and counsellor trained in assertiveness training who can provide you with personalised guidance and support.
Fear of rejection or disapproval is a common barrier to assertiveness. To overcome this fear, individuals can remind themselves that their thoughts, feelings, and needs are valid and that expressing them is their right. It's also important to recognise that occasional disagreement or disapproval is a normal part of human relationships and that it doesn't devalue one's worth.
A lack of assertive role models can make it challenging to learn assertive behaviour. In this case, you can seek help that provides examples and guidance on assertive communication. This course can help you.
Cultural and gender norms can sometimes discourage assertive behaviour. It's essential to recognise and challenge these norms, acknowledging that everyone has the right to express their thoughts, feelings, and needs respectfully, regardless of their cultural background or gender. Embracing diversity and promoting equality can help create an environment where assertiveness is valued and encouraged.
Past trauma or negative experiences can also inhibit assertiveness. In such cases, professional help from a therapist or counsellor may be necessary to address and heal from these experiences, allowing for the development of healthy communication patterns.
When dealing with difficult people, it can be difficult to remain assertive and maintain one's boundaries. Staying calm, expressing oneself clearly, and using active listening skills can help navigate challenging interactions more effectively. This take considerable practice to do well. On this course you’ll be given plenty of guidance and practice until you’re confident you can replicate these skills “in the heat of battle”.
Assertiveness in the workplace is essential for effective communication, collaboration, and negotiation. Practicing assertive behaviour in professional settings can lead to increased job satisfaction, career advancement, and healthier working relationships. Most of our clients come to us to learn how to be more assertive at work.
Assertiveness is equally important in personal relationships, helping you express your needs, set boundaries, and resolve conflicts effectively. By being assertive, you can foster healthier, more balanced relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners. Again, we can show you exactly how to do it.
While assertiveness is essential, it's also crucial to balance it with empathy and understanding. Being sensitive to others' feelings and perspectives can help create more effective communication and stronger connections. These two skills go hand-in-glove. On this course you’ll become an expert at both these skills.
Assertiveness may need to be adapted to different situations and contexts. For example, the level of assertiveness used in a personal conversation may differ from that used in a professional setting. Being flexible and adaptable in one's assertive communication style can help ensure effectiveness in various circumstances.
By understanding the science behind assertiveness and implementing the strategies discussed, you can develop more effective communication skills and enjoy the benefits of assertiveness in your personal and professional life.
Understanding the psychology behind assertive behaviour is interesting, but not essential for personal and professional growth. By examining the cognitive, behavioural, and neurological aspects of assertiveness, you can go some way to identifying barriers to effective communication, but the chances are you won’t get very far on your own without professional help. With some professional help you’ll be able to develop your ability to be assertive without needing to understand any of the science.
Applying the knowledge and strategies discussed in this article can lead to more assertive behaviour and its associated benefits, such as improved relationships, decision-making, and mental health.
By embracing assertiveness, you can unlock your potential for personal and professional growth. Developing assertive behaviour can lead to a more fulfilling life, characterised by open, honest, and respectful communication with others.