A Critical Analysis of My Strengths and Weaknesses in the Skill of Assertiveness

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A Critical Analysis of My Strengths and Weaknesses in the skills of Assertiveness

Assertiveness enables us to act in our own best interests, to stand up for ourselves without undue anxiety, to exercise personal rights without denying the rights of others, and to express our feelings honestly and comfortably (Alberti & Emmons, 2008). Within interpersonal communication, the skill of assertion is absolutely vital; it is a skill we are constantly utilising either consciously or unconsciously. Through nurturing the skill of assertiveness a person may have fruitful relationships with family, friends, peers, superiors and subordinates (Rakos, 1997) based on honesty and equality. The skill of Assertiveness can be viewed in differently within diverse cultures, for example in the highly extraverted, expressive and individualistic culture that is apparent in America; Assertiveness is a particularly important, if not essential skill. However in the much more reserved and introverted culture of Britain more emphasis is placed on interpersonal sensitivity, being a rewarding partner and the use of non-verbal signals (Forgas, 1985).

The skill of Assertion has 9 main functions, these include; helping individuals to ensure that their personal rights are not violated, make reasonable requests of others, recognise the personal rights of others, avoid unnecessary aggressive conflicts and confidently, and openly communicate their position regarding any issue (Hargie, 2009). Assertiveness is a skill that is learned and training is available for those who may find it hard to assert their feelings within a social context. Assertiveness is a great skill to possess however there are times when an assertive response may in fact be the least responsive, in such times a non assertive or passive response may be what is required. The different levels of response are displayed well by the continuum which ranges from Non Assertive – Assertive – Aggressive. In most instances people should aim to remain as close to assertive on the continuum as possible, as this promotes both standing up for yourself whilst also taking the other persons views into consideration. As a result of my Assertiveness practical I found myself to be just slightly towards the more non-assertive side of the continuum. I was quite pleased with this result as I did not want to be positioned too close to aggressive or non assertive.

Throughout the Assertiveness Practical I had a number of Strengths which were outweighed by quite a number of Weaknesses, this is natural as Rakos stated “Assertion is a learned skill, not a trait that a person has or lacks.” An area throughout the practical in which I was strong was ‘Gesturing’, upon analysing my video I found my gestures to be smooth and fluid, I feel this conveyed a non-verbal message that I was calm within the situation. Accentuating your message with appropriate gestures can add emphasis, openness and warmth. A relaxed use of gestures can add depth or power to your messages (Alberti & Emmons, 2008).

Another area which analysing my practical revealed I was strong was ‘Paralanguage’ this can include an individual’s rate of speech, intensity, tone and volume. I found the tone of my voice to be conversational but not overly friendly and I felt this was perfect for the situation, the other people involved in the practical commented on the intensity of my voice being quite firm but not intimidating as the still felt comfortable. This is quite an important aspect of being assertive as a Kimble and Seidel study showed that those who spoke with a dominant conversational tone where perceived as being confident and therefore more likely to gain a more adequate answers (Richmond & McCroskey, 2000).

Analysing my practical led me to see that I excelled in complex direct assertion, most notably the use of embellishments. Embellishments lessen the social risk whilst having a discussion with someone, however if they are used...
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