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In order for your students to deal effectively with bullying they need to exercise self-control. One way for them to increase their level of self-control is to develop their assertion. Assertion is a positive communication skill and a learned behavior. Assertive people communicate openly and clearly with others. Failing to be assertive leads to negative communication skills like aggression and deference. Aggression and deference are self-defeating styles of communication that work against the individual. Assertion allows one to choose their behavior and increase their self-control. In this post, we cover 11 ways for students to develop their assertion. Try and foster these behaviors in your students and watch their self-control grow!

1. Decide to Change

Before your students can become more assertive, they must admit that they need to change. Most people are emotionally attached to those things with which they are familiar. Change can be scary and this fear can block your students personal growth and development. Helping your students understand the need to develop their assertion is the first step in the process.

making a decision

2. Decide What You Want

Your students must understand what they hope to get out of their change situation. If their goal is to handle situations better in the future, they must begin now to improve the way they handle those situations. The key to the process is to make sure their objectives are realistic and can be met. Most aggressive or deferring people set themselves up for failure and confrontation. They make impossible demands on their time and energy. When they fail, they blame themselves. Becoming more assertive will help them to ask the question, “Is this a realistic expectation?”

3. Decide If It Is Fair (Win/Win Situation)

Assertion fails when the needs and rights of others are not respected. Being assertive requires that all parties involved “win”, at least in part. For example, in the workplace all team members must win, even if that means not everyone gets what they want. This can be a tricky concept for students to learn. Bringing real world examples from your professional experience can help them to grasp the concept.

exercising assertion

4. Ask for What You Want in Clear, Concise Statements

Assertiveness requires clear communication. People must be aware of what everyone is asking for in any given situation. The key to clear communication is self-awareness. Are your students aware of how others perceive their communication? Is what they are saying clear to others? How is their body language, is it jiving with the content of their words? Students often live in their own bubble. Asking them to be aware of how their communication is interpreted by others can be a real eye-opener for them.

5. Know How to Say No

Learning when to say no is very important for assertion. No is one of the shortest words in the English language but, for many, it is one of the hardest to say. The ability to say no also relates directly to self-esteem. Self-esteem is a critical part of assertion. People with low self-esteem are often unable to say no to others because they don’t think they have the right to. Work with your students who have trouble saying no and try to boost their self-esteem and confidence.

6. Learn How to Listen

Assertive people have great listening skills. They understand that listening is often more important than getting their own thoughts and opinions heard. Listening is interactive, it requires the person listening to be engaged with the other person while they are speaking. This type of listening is called “active listening” and is essential to an assertive communication style. Only by truly understanding what everyone wants out of a situation can assertion be effective.

risk taking

7. Take Risks

Risk taking in assertion involves saying what one believes, saying what one wants, stating one’s acceptable limits or boundaries, and stating one’s expectations. People often feel these actions are risky because they believe doing these things will cause them to be judged harshly by others. Understanding that these actions are healthy and necessary for an assertive communication style is essential. Helping your students overcome this fear of risk taking is key.

8. Be Calm and Relaxed

This is really about avoiding the negative emotions that make assertion difficult. Changing from a familiar communication style to be more assertive can be stressful. This can allow emotions like fear, anger, and self-doubt to creep in. While these feelings are normal, they can cause people to resist becoming more assertive. Let your students know that they may need to work through some difficult emotions to become more assertive and that support is available to them when these emotions arise.

smiling student

9. Express Feelings Openly

Being open and honest with one’s own feelings is the only way other people can understand how one feels. This is another aspect to assertion that involves self-esteem. Low self-esteem can make people reluctant to express their feelings and assert themselves. Assertion is impossible until your students learn how to open themselves up and express their true feelings to others.

10. Give and Take Compliments

Compliments can be hard to give and to receive. The ability to do so indicates someone with a comfortable communication style. Practicing this is a good way to get your students assertion to grow.

11. Give and Take Fair Criticism

Recall that assertive people take risks. One of these risks is exposing themselves to criticism from others. Criticism helps people to learn and grow, as long as it is fair. Being able to give criticism is just as important as being able to receive it. Understanding and using criticism to become more assertive is a good way to speed up the development process.

If you’d like to see how our Bulling Prevention Map assess skills like self-control and assertion click the free trail button below.