This week I’m reflecting on a Monster.com article I read in the AJC (9/13/20, H1) titled “Ways to stay positive during tough times.” Yesterday I shared the importance of self-awareness so we can be more mindful of the ways we are contributing to the environment around us (for bad or good). Today I want to lift up the skill of assertiveness and honest speech in our lives. When someone tries to pull you down, the article suggests making a non-judgmental statement about how you feel. Try saying something like “that doesn’t work for me.” Do speak up!
Assertiveness is simply stating how you feel and declaring what you want and so is a very important communication skill. Being assertive means being able to stand up for your own or other people's rights, thoughts or feelings in a calm and positive way, without being aggressive. It’s a powerful and necessary way for any relationship to strengthen or environment to improve. As Christians, we know the power of words and even believe God created newness of life with the words “let there be….”! Therefore, let yours be well-chosen words that help further the good in others and the world.
The article from the “Jobs” section of the paper also cautions against silence on your part when someone is complaining or being negative or hurtful toward others. “Silence conveys permission to continue” it quotes, so you need to speak up and state your feelings. Others may not realize how negative or critical or gossipy they are being. When you simply speak up in a caring, gentle way you help others know better how they are coming across (they may be unaware). Your honesty and directness also help to stop the negativity from growing like kudzu on a hillside. Kudzu takes over if you let it! “I don’t want to criticize others” or “All of this complaining in exhausting me” or “Maybe you should share that directly with that person since it is about him/her” or “you sound really frustrated” or simply “that’s not how I see it” are all ways you can be assertive and help create a more healthy home or work environment.
We are all a part of groups and communities. Being assertive and caring, direct and honest with your communication can go a long way toward contributing to a more healthy and happy social environment—even church--for everyone. Speaking the truth with love is always welcome and timely.