Assertiveness is lacking all over the globe today mostly amongst youths (adolescents) (Parray & Kumar, 2016). Assertiveness is a skill regularly referred to in social and communication trainings. Being assertive means being able to stand up for one’s own goals or other people’s right in a calm or positive way without being aggressive or passively accepting wrong.
Assertive Behavior is the ability to openly, confidently and sincerely express genuine positive or negative emotions, opinions and need in interpersonal contexts, while respecting the personal boundaries of others when such expressions may result in approval or possibility of conflict.
Assertiveness or assertive behavior has received extensive attention in literature and has become a desirable goal of therapy due to its link to healthy personality in Western cultures (Hannid,1994). Assertiveness has been firstly defined by Lazarus (1971/1980, cit in Marchezini-Cunha & Tourinho, 2010) as the ability to say no and make requests, ask for favours, express negative and positive feelings and start, continue and end a normal conversation.
Later, Lange, Jakubwski and McGovern (1976) considered assertiveness as the defense of personal rights and the expression of thoughts, feelings and beliefs in a direct, honest and appropriate way, in order to respect the rights of other people. The assertive behaviour has been analyzed in parallel with aggressive and passive behaviour (Marchezini-Cunha & Tourinho, 2010).
These authors suggest that the behavioural relationships defined as assertiveness, aggressiveness and passivity can be interpreted as instances of self-control or impulsivity. Although, research literature to date propose numerous definitions, assertiveness generally has been conceptualized as standing up for one’s own rights and communicating thoughts, feelings and beliefs in a sincere, straight forward and appropriate manner without violating one’s own rights (Lange & Jakubwski, 1979).
Assertiveness is a superior social ability that enables the person to act appropriately and efficiently in different social contexts and stand up for himself, for his rights, without violating the rights of another person (Petz, 1992, as cited by Vagos, & Pereira, 2010). Assertiveness, as a competence, if not a personal characteristic, could be taught and learned (Parray, Ahirwar, & Kumar, 2018; Whitson, 2017; Long, Long, & Whitson, 2011).
The most significant obstacles to becoming assertive are insecurity, fear, shyness, the desire to fit with peers, acceptance, the lack of self-direction, the lack of knowledge, and the inability to negotiate well. Alberti and Emons (1970) added that assertive individuals are capable of acting their own best interest without experiencing excessive anxiety or disregarding the rights of others.
Conversely, non-assertiveness is said to be characterized by communicating one’s own view points and feelings in such an over-apologetic, timid and self-deprecating fashion, that it leads others easily to ignore or disguise them. Being assertive therefore represents a balance between been aggressive and submissive, which in turn encourages self-respect, respect for others and co-operations. In an effort to provide a more clear definition of the complex concept of assertiveness, researchers have also identified affective and cognitive components.
At the affective level, the expression of assertive responses can be inhibited by anxiety. Wolpe (1968) argued that shy individuals often experience inhibitory anxiety that prevents them from responding assertively. Cognitively, lack of assertiveness can be influenced by self deprecation (Rich & Schroeder, 1976). Individuals with a low sense of worth may experience difficulty in standing up for themselves because they view others thoughts, feelings and rights as more important than their own.
Vagos and Pereira (2010) stated that assertive and non-assertive responses are partially influenced by a cognitive filter that controls how an individual interpret social cues. These cognitive interpretations of social situations are guided by core beliefs which are developed from childhood to experience with attachment figures and influence how we view ourselves and others, and the relationship between them.
Gallasi, Delo, Gallasi (1974) emphasized the multidimensional nature of assertiveness by defining in terms of three response classes which may include positive assertiveness, negative assertiveness and self denial. Positive assertiveness is said to consist of the expression of positive feelings such as agreement, affection and admiration.
Negative assertiveness on the other hand is defined as the expression of negative feelings such as anger, annoyance and disagreement. Self denial includes excessive interpersonal anxiety, unnecessary apologizing and exaggerated worry about the feelings of others. These separate responses classes demonstrate that assertive behavior may be intended to achieve a lot of goals and that the content of assertive response may be positive or negative.
Since the early introduction in the 1970, Assertiveness trainings continues to be a popular intervention technique offered at university counseling centers, psychology practices and in various other social programs. Bishop (2010) further demonstrates modern recognition of assertiveness as a beneficial social skill.
During the second half of the 20th century, assertiveness was increasingly singled out as a behavioural skill taught by many personal development experts, behaviour therapists, and cognitive behavioural therapists. Assertiveness is often linked to self-esteem. When the individuals Self-Esteem is lowered they need assertiveness training.
Joseph Wolpe originally explored the use of assertiveness as a means of “reciprocal inhibition” of anxiety, in his 1958 book on treating neurosis; and it has since been commonly employed as an intervention in behaviour therapy. Assertiveness Training (“AT”) was introduced by Andrew Salter (1961) and popularized by Joseph Wolpe. Wolpe’s belief was that a person could not be both assertive and anxious at the same time, and thus being assertive would inhibit anxiety.
The Goals of Assertiveness Training include:
. Help the adolescents develop guidelines for dealing assertively with aggressive behavior.
. To enable the adolescents to increase awareness of their emotional reaction to other people’s behavior and how to deal with the people they find ‘difficult’.
. To build up an ability to get their point across effectively whilst building an understanding of other’s feelings.
. Assertive behavior is commonly associated with the ability to initiate and maintain rewarding interpersonal relationships in the business world and personal life.
. According to Lange & Jakubowski (1976), people high in assertiveness are more self-actualized than people low in assertiveness because assertive behavior lead’s to one’s need for being respected and fulfilled.
. Galassi et al., (1974) suggested that assertive people are communicative, free spirited, secure, self assured, and able to influence and guide other future generations.
. Assertiveness can be accepted as a pattern of behavior which can prevent problematic relations and communication, which is the basic problem of our times. Characterizing some features like giving importance to the feelings of others as well as our own, self confidence and ability to establish positive relations can be perceived as a feature sought in adolescents.
For these reasons, determining the assertiveness and control locus of computer informatics and teaching students is also important for professional roles. Earning individuals some skills like telling themselves as they are, conveying their positive and negative feelings, resisting to some wishes that seem wrong to them, and requesting things from others, in short, eliminating the behavior problems of people who have problems with communication and earning them proper behaviors are all related to the concept of assertiveness (Alberti, Emmons, 1998).
It is also seen that the concept of assertiveness is used in the meanings of confidence (Voltan Acar, 2001; cited in Uaklı 2006), displaying oneself in an effective manner (Davaslıgil et al., 1998; cited in Uaklı 2006), acting effectively (Uaklı, 2006), confident behavior (Balta & Balta, 1986), confident energetic (Cücelolu, 1993).