Honolulu (KHON2) – Rhesa and Edwina of Ho’oko LLC dished straight talk about assertiveness, including the right balance and benefits.

“Assertiveness is a social and communication skill that demonstrates confidence, persuasive behavior and the ability to strongly advocate for one’s beliefs,” explains President/Co-Founder Rhesa Kaulia. “Assertiveness is often misunderstood or inaccurately portrayed to be aggressive or rude behavior.  In fact, assertiveness is the ability to effectively defend one’s point, while still respecting the values and beliefs of someone else, showing simultaneous respect for self and others.  This balance, along with having the ability to learn to be assertive, is why it is a skill.  Consider the idea that one does not need to blow out someone else’s candle to make their own shine brighter.”

Vice-President/Co-Founder Edwina Reyes adds, “It’s important to identify the right balance of being assertive and the context in which it is being used.  People who are assertive tend to experience less anxiety, stress and depression.  Assertiveness is about controlling what is in your power to control, which is you and not others.  Despite the changes that have taken place with respect to gender equality, women still tend to be regarded in a more negative light when they are assertive.”

There are a number of health benefits including lower blood pressure, less stress or mental health issues.  Most assertive people are confident and have higher levels of self-esteem.  Relationships tend to be better due to a greater sense of agency, or the ability to choose.  People tend to feel more respected and perform better in work and life.  Self-awareness and boundaries are key to becoming more assertive. Developing and adhering to clear boundaries, including being willing to say no, are necessary components of assertiveness.  It is also important to stick to facts versus react based on emotion and to start small with low-pressure situations. Additionally, practice actively listening and concisely stating one’s point, while still being willing to walk away if your voice is not heard.

Those who don’t practice assertiveness may be more sensitive to criticism or take things personally, may exhibit insecurity, anxiety, or low self-esteem.  They may be those who are passive and allow others to run them over, be treated like a doormat, or to even have others make decisions for them despite not really wanting that.  Many suffer physical and mental health issues and tend to be less happy in their lives.  These people are more reactive instead of proactive, and in extreme cases, may lose sight of who they are or what is important in their lives.

“There are many components that contribute to this,” says Kaulia, “Including the way one was raised, culture (e.g., it could be considered rude to assert oneself with elders or to push individual views), gender inequality, past negative experiences with attempts to be , personality (e.g., having low self-esteem or viewing oneself as incapable), not having boundaries, conflicting or erroneous beliefs (e.g., assertiveness is being rude or pushy).”

Contact a professional to discuss ways to become more assertive, or things that may be preventing you from being assertive. Ho’oko Counseling Center also provides services for these types of situations.  Often people don’t realize that counseling services are covered by most major health insurances. 

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact 808-375-7712 or visit www.hookollc.com.