Level 4

Positive and Negative Assertiveness

Good interpersonal skills mean becoming aware of the different ways to communicate which enables people to adopt the most appropriate approach in any given situation. In developing this skill, it will undoubtingly improve interpersonal interactions and personal relationships. People become divided into three groups, 1) those who are passive who put up with the things they don’t like and say nothing. 2) People who could be described as dominant or aggressive assertive who shout and argue with those they disagree with and 3) People in between these two groups who are assertive and can clearly say “No Thanks” or “I disagree” in a calm way.

Positive Verbal Assertiveness
Positive assertiveness is about developing a conscious ability to give praise, pay compliments, provide positive feedback, recognise effort, show appreciation, make positive remarks, show approval and give thanks.

In general, it would be easy to assume that most people practice positive assertiveness but many don’t. Perhaps a test is trying to remember when was the last time someone paid you a compliment, said “Well Done” or “Thanked You” either at home or work. It’s unfortunate that people don’t use this more because it’s a powerful way to shape behaviour and improve relationships.

Positive Non-Verbal Assertiveness
There are so many non-verbal ways to convey positive messages and it’s worth becoming consciously aware of them and add them to your skill base. If you watch sport events you will notice that people playing a game will demonstrate positive non-verbal assertive gestures when they are being successful such as thrusting their fist in the air, chest bumping another player, doing high fives, hugging team mates, stage performers take a bow, audiences stand and applaud, people smile when they do something good, get (well done) pats on the back, give the thumb’s up sign, to name but a few.

Negative Verbal Assertiveness
The general application of negative assertiveness is developing the skill to clearly express ‘what you don’t want or don’t like’ in any given situation without becoming angry. This includes saying “No”, offer constructive criticism, express a dislike for something, decline an unwanted action, saying something is unacceptable, give negative feedback, acknowledge a mistake. 

Negative Non-Verbal Assertiveness
We are probably all too aware of negative non-verbal methods, signs and gestures that people use to register their displeasure. Probably the most common occurrence is when driving a car. Sports people have different ways to reflect disappointment with their own performance such as appearing angry, holding their hands to their head, mouth wide open in disbelief, shaking their head saying No, standing still and looking at the floor. People also look away to avoid eye contact, ignore another person, stares or glares at an individual, becomes quiet and minimise conversations. There is also an array of physical actions that varying degrees of aggression such as being confined, pushing, poking, smacking, throwing items, punching, using weapons or even driving a car at someone.