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Before we begin, let us understand what we mean by ‘assertive communication’. It is a style of communication where you get your point across firmly yet politely, remembering that both you and others have rights.
Let us explain with an example. Say, your friend asks you to join him for a movie. You would rather stay home and complete an important assignment so you need not work throughout the night. And you are not really crazy about the movie in question. But you do not want to offend your friend. You are sure if you refuse, he will take it to heart. So you go to the movie, all the while worrying about the assignment and not really enjoying .At night you lose sleep over the assignment, and curse yourself for agreeing to go in the first place. But then, how could you have refused?

Let us analyse this rationally. You took so much trouble because you could not say no. I think most of us can relate to this, in various situations. Coming to think of it, had you explained your situation to your friend, and made plans for another day, he would hardly have taken offence. In all fairness, your friend has the right to your companionship, and you have the right to decide when you must prioritise work over pleasure. This is assertive communication. You said no, firmly and politely (explaining yourself thoroughly and apologising of course) and made plans for another day respecting the rights of both.

In case you are wondering, what happens when we are not assertive? We end up blaming others (say, our supervisor for giving us extra assignments) and ourselves (because we could not tell him/her that we are already buried in incomplete assignments). And then we get anxious because we have more on our plate than we can handle, and depressed and frustrated when we are unable to meet deadlines.

People come to us every day with anxiety, panic attacks, depression, anger issues and believe me, in many cases, the root cause is lack of assertiveness. It is therefore just not enough to address the effect (say, anxiety or depression) but also the cause (communication skills).Only then is the therapy complete.

This was a brief overview. Hope you enjoyed reading. If you find yourself wondering how to go about being assertive, feel free to ask.