Level 4

Use of Assertiveness

There are two main aspects to using assertiveness 1) is to improve a practitioner’s ability to manage situations and 2) how practitioners can use it to help passive or aggressive clients.

1. Improve a practitioner’s ability
The first thing is to say that people do not use assertiveness all the time, it’s just one form or style of communication that can be beneficial to apply in certain situations. Assertiveness should be seen as extending professional communication skills so that it enables practitioners to have greater control over specific situations such as dealing with personal boundaries.  Having the control means there may be occasions where a softer approach is required such as with passive communicators and other times when you need to be quite tough with aggressive communicators.

As assertiveness connects to power and authority, some who are especially new to this technique may not always practice assertiveness in a balanced way and can find they go too far and become dominant or aggressive. Sometimes a client’s resistance can be perceived as a threat or a challenge to a person’s authority and feel concerned about losing (professional) face in terms of not being competent at their job. This could develop into a battle of wills resulting in practitioner’s imposing change on unwilling people which can cause as a loss of goodwill and the client’s participation in the change process.

2. Using Assertiveness to Help Client’s
Practitioners could use assertiveness training to enable passive people be more forthright or help aggressive people moderate their style of communication as both have the potential to improve relationships. It’s reported that assertiveness training is used in connection with personal development, cognitive behavioural therapy with regards to the prevention of alcohol and substance abuse. In working with people, it can be useful to understand the difference between passive and aggressive communicators.