Handout 4: Assertiveness rights
(Taken from Management Review, August 1982)
Fundamental to a proper level of assertiveness is a belief in
these basic rights:
1. Assertive people believe that individuals have the right to
be treated with respect. They value others as well as themselves and desire
fairness in interpersonal relationships. They feel that personal relationships
are damaged when one tries to control others through guilt, hostility, or
intimidation. Individuals who demean others also demean themselves; everyone
loses as a result.
2. Assertive people think that individuals have the right to
promote their dignity and self-respect, as long as the rights of others are not
violated in the process.
3. Assertive people believe individuals are entitled to defend
themselves. They consider that when people frequently subordinate or relinquish
their rights, others take advantage of them. When individuals express their
honest thoughts and feelings directly and appropriately, everyone benefits.
4. Assertive people encourage others to express their ideas. In
fact, they believe that not letting others know one's thoughts is a form of
selfishness, because personal relationships can only become truly meaningful
when individuals openly share their ideas.
5. Assertive people believe that individuals have the right to
express their feelings about how other's behavior affects them. By verbalizing
how they perceive other people's behavior, assertive people let other know where
they stand -- and give them opportunity to change. Not letting people know how
one feels about their behavior is just as inconsiderate as not listening to
their thoughts and feelings.
6. Assertive people consider that individuals have the right to
make their needs known. When someone else feels downtrodden, put-upon,
mistreated, or indignant, assertive people believe he or she has the right to
attempt to rectify the situation and to seek personal satisfaction. By allowing
others to acknowledge their own needs, assertive people feel good about
themselves and gain self-respect, as well as that of others.
7. Assertive people think that individuals have the right to'
take sufficient time to consider complex problems, to ask for information, and
to change their minds when necessary. They are receptive to new ways of
thinking, and do not seek pat answers or magical gimmicks to solve perplexing
8. Assertive people believe individuals have the right to choose
whether or not to change their behavior to please others, and the right to say
"no" without feeling guilty. They want to be liked by others but are not
seriously upset if they are not.
9. Assertive people even believe that individuals have the right
not to assert themselves at times. People are entitled to establish their own
priorities, to make mistakes, to suffer the consequences, and to be the ultimate
judges of their own actions.
The key to developing responsible assertive behavior is
realizing and accepting these rights. Although rights have limitations and bring
with them responsibilities, accepting assertive rights is crucial to the process
of expanding human