Assertiveness and Young People


Member since March 28, 2012
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Picture this: Annabel, a young entrepreneur walks into a meeting to sell her products. Halfway through, a fussy manager berates those products and attempts to reduce the price by half. Annabel is pretty sure of the energy, craftsmanship and quality control put into the production of her goods. What should Annabel do? A) Thank the man for his comments and firmly remark that the price offered is below cost price B) Look defeated and agree with the manager. He has been in the business longer than she has… A lot of people would definitely choose option A. Guess what? It may not be that easy to do, if you are not assertive and unsure of your abilities.

I remember attending an employability training session three years ago and the class I looked forward to attending was the one on “Assertiveness”. I wanted to know what experts thought about this trait. Assertiveness is being able to say no while respecting the other party’s rights and not trampling on yours. We often find that young people live or work in communities where ‘respect’ is the order of the day. In Nigeria where I come from and in most parts of Africa, it is considered rude to speak while an adult is speaking. Worse still, it is viewed with outrage when you have the guts to tell an older person that you disagree with his/her trend of thoughts.

When I meet young people who cannot express themselves or stand their ground, I am instantly put off. This is because the 21st century work and living environment expects one to be able to communicate clearly and not in a timid manner. When you are not assertive, you find out that opportunities will pass you by. Many time, people assume that confident or outspoken youths have the ability to perform, but this may not always be so. Presentation and first impressions count. If a young person walks through the doors of an interview room looking timid and unsure, the interviewer won't be impressed. Becoming assertive will help you through school, work and life in general.

How do young people develop an assertive attitude? The answer lies in practice. Here are some tips I would like to give: • Learn to say no when a situation is uncomfortable for you • Make your voice heard when in a team • Make eye contact when communicating and be sure of your facts • Do not let other people’s opinions intimidate you…

Lastly, assertiveness is in no way linked to aggression or rudeness. When you are assertive, you are confident, and the truth is confident people always win..

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this…

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