The human being as a social animal: benefits of assertiveness
It is well known that Being a human is a social animal . However, the ramifications of this famous phrase of Aristotle are more complex and intertwined than a superficial analysis of it could suggest.
Working in society is a characteristic that gives us an adaptive advantage as a species, and is responsible for some of the most proud achievements of humanity, such as writing or economics. However, it is also one of his deepest shames, such as war or poverty.
At a more daily level of analysis, living in society it involves relating to other people , sometimes known, sometimes not, sometimes dear, sometimes not. However, as has been established in this introduction, the human being is a social being, so it is better for us to learn the rules of the game if we want to take advantage of this advantage that natural selection has taken so long to grant us. In this respect, the so-called social skills have much to say.
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The power of social skill
Social skills, if they can be defined, are behaviors oriented towards facilitate communication between two or more people . There are as many as theoretical models, but the most important is what we know as assertiveness. The paradigmatic example to illustrate the functioning of this social skill is the following.
Let's suppose that someone asks for a little steak in a restaurant and the bartender serves it almost charred. One option would be to eat it without more, total, it will not be bad and we avoid bothering the waiter and kitchen staff. This first response would enter the classification as "passive" .
Another option would be, taking advantage of that precious moment in which we know that we are right and we are in that position of authority that gives us to be customers, dump all our frustrations and bad decisions of our lives in the innocent waiter, making sure that we nobody He takes us for fools and showing off ways that convince the whole restaurant that we are very angry. This would be the "aggressive" response .
Finally, and pulling down the middle path, there is the option of politely calling the attention of the waiter and, with that please and thanks that we have all been taught, to indicate the error between what was ordered and what was served. This would be, in appearance, the "assertive" response. And I say in appearance because, and this is the most important thing, Assertiveness is defined by its own effectiveness . That is, however educated we have been and although we have used the best of our smiles, if the waiter is offended by our message we will have been aggressive, although we will have done the best we can do, which is to try.
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The benefits of assertiveness for the social animal
Beyond getting us to serve a steak in conditions, Assertiveness is important for multiple occasions of capital importance in our performance as social beings. Claiming the parking space to which we had taken the eye, get us to attend at a window five minutes before closing ... claim our rights in a school or work situation, build a relationship ... all this, expressing our opinion and feelings and being able to maintain a good relationship with our interlocutor, is assertiveness.
Thus, putting assertiveness into practice is complex , and each person can use it in their style. However, there are certain guidelines that can help develop it when we are still inexperienced.
- Find the right moment.
- Formulate in the form of an opinion and from the first person (I feel, I believe ...).
- Refer to the behaviors instead of the essence of the people, because the behaviors are susceptible to change while the essence is understood as immutable, in addition to being related to self-esteem (you do X versus you are X).
- Formulate positive instead of negative , and in the future instead of in the past.
Thus, an example would be: "I think (first person) that, for the next time (future), it would be better if (positive) you let me know that you are going to be late (behavior)". On the other hand, it is recommended to avoid absolute terms (always, never, everything, nothing ...) and use strategies like humor . In addition, as important as the construction of the message is its reception, that is why it is important to use empathy, active listening ...
And, of course, this is far from easy, so it usually requires training and dedication, and there are situations that favor assertiveness (the restaurant is empty) and others that make it difficult, but we should not underestimate the power of the assertiveness, because, if the human being is a social being, society begins with human beings.