What Is Assertiveness? Assertiveness is the ability to express one’s feelings and assert one’s rights while respecting the feelings and rights of others. Assertive communication is appropriately direct, open and honest, and clarifies one’s needs to the other person. Assertiveness comes naturally to some, but is a skill that can be learned. People who have mastered the skill of assertiveness are able to greatly reduce the level of interpersonal conflict in their lives, thereby reducing a major source of stress. (Scott, 2006, para. 1).
I must admit this topic couldn’t have come at a better time for me personally. I’m using this opportunity to research, access and exam assertiveness in my personal life.
I am the only child of my mother and big sister to several from my father. I grew up with my grandmother, who was and still to this day, a very aggressive and intimidating parent in my rearing. Her love was not shown in what society may deem a “traditional manner”. I’ve never heard her express outwardly emotions like “I love you”. Although, she in her own way showed love, it could not be easily identified.
So, I learned at an early age when to speak up and when to keep my thoughts and opinions to myself, in fear of having my feeling hurt. So, you can imagine I was taken advantage of because I didn’t know how to assert myself.
When did I move from the non-assertive to assertiveness? It was not until, I joined the military. It was an eye opening experience that forever changed my passive side. When orders are given by persons of authority you must follow. But, when orders are given that are in contradiction to the rules, you must be assertive to stand up for your rights or remain passive and except the situation in order to avoid conflict or discipline.
As the years went by while serving, I have experienced and transition between the five behaviors reactions all at various stages in my military career.
The next phase in my personal life that, I exam was my relationship with my children. My daughter is the oldest 21, and my son is 18. I struggle even until this day with the non-assertive and aggressive behavior between the two.
My daughter is very much the opposite of myself growing up. Although, I openly show the traits of my grandmother behaviors, she at an early age, became very assertive. If a particular discipline did not seem fair, she was able to express her discomfort. My response from an aggressive parent; did exactly as the text described. My natural response would often be expressed in an aggressive and threatening and yes sometimes hostile manner. I was often told as a young child you respect your elders and you do not question your parents.
Today, my daughter and I look back on those times and laugh, but she admitted though I was harsh, she respected and understood some of my actions. But more so than anything now, I worry less about her being out in the world. Why, because she shown and proven to me at such an earlier age, the importance asserting her feelings in order to be understood.
My son, Wow! He continuously brings out the non-assertive side of me. He has always been the passive, quite, good child. He rarely ever complained or was disrespectful or disagreed and accepted things as they came. His reaction trait is very non-assertive, even to this day. I tend to worry about him and how he’s being treated and how he handles himself in a given situation. He is very much like me growing up, never wanted to be hurt or hurt others.
But it wasn’t until my second marriage, that my husband made me realize that I could potentially be setting him up for failure. He would often say; “you’re so hard on Ashley, but miss softy when it comes to Bryan”. I admit; I took the assertive calm approach, when it came to disciplining my son, over the aggressive behavior in disciplining my daughter. I have enormous love for both my children, but I do possess a particular favor for my son, because he is so much like me. This is a continuous work in progress.
Research according to a study by researchers at Southwest Missouri State University (SMSU) reveals: Because men and women perceive anger differently, they experience and handle feelings of frustration and rage in different ways. Science Daily (Jan 31, 2000).
This really describes my relationship with my husband to some degree and my relationship with my mother-in-law. I’m married to what has been referred to as a “momma’s boy”. I laugh as I wrote this phrase. I struggle with feelings of frustration because of his attachment to his mother.
According to Keith Sonnanburg, Being Assertive (1995), “The communication styles of individuals have been usefully catalogued as: passive, assertive, and aggressive”
(para. 1). Communications is the biggest barrier in our relationship and I tend to revolve around the passive and aggressive behaviors.
I’ve always overlooked things that I may not normally agree with during the course of our marriage. When ever it came to his family visiting, I have always been excluded from the planning and only informed after plans have been made. The planning usually involves a conversation with his mother of course. This has always put me at odds, because instead of asserting me feeling, I took the non-assertive approach to avoid conflict. Recent events have revealed that continuing to internalize those feelings can have devastating results.
My husband is serving a one year tour in Iraq and recently came home for the holidays. As, usual he and his mother had discussed her visit during his time home. Again, I was informed after plans and decisions had been made. So, as told to me by my husband, my mother-in-law said, she was going to give us a few days alone before she would come down.
Two days before his expected arrival, I received a phone call from my mother-in-law asking, when do want us to come? Yes, according to my mother, I should have restated what was told to me about having a few days alone. But, no I said, it didn’t matter, when in fact it did. But my thought process was, if you realized the importance before of having time alone, why would call to ask the question of when? So, without much pause my husband’s mother, sister and nephew arrived the day before he was to arrive home. His visit was only two weeks and his family stayed with us the first week.
Remember, he’s a momma’s boy, so put the three of us in a room together and imagine who received the least amount of attention. When I expressed my feelings of needing my husband’s undivided attention, it was met with misunderstanding and questions instead of understanding.
In conclusion, I Shelia F. Hines learned from my research of Assertiveness: that it is a growth process in thinking and conveying understanding. I must become a better communicator and be able to calmly express my feelings with respect to others and hope to bring about a peaceful change in my personal life.

Scott, E., About.Com (2006, August 13). Stress Management: Reduce Stress With Increased Assertiveness. Retrieved January 11, 2008, from
Sonnanburg, K., (1995). Essays by psychologist - Life Tools - Being Assertive. Retrieved January 11, 2008, from
University Of California, San Francisco (2000, January 31). Comparison Of Anger Expression In Men And Women Reveals Surprising. Retrieved January 11, 2008, from

Assertiveness 8.3 of 10 on the basis of 4002 Review.