Assertiveness and Your Personal Bill of Rights

Assertiveness is a form of communication in which needs, feelings, and opinions are clearly stated with respect for oneself and the other person(s) involved in the interaction. Being assertive allows others to know what you want/need thereby making it easier for them to support you. Assertive communication differs from passive communication, in which people avoid expressing or speaking up for themselves, and aggressive communication, in which people do not take into consideration the feelings of others when expressing themselves and use blaming or accusing language. Many people confuse aggressive communication with being assertive. One of the significant differences is the words used when expressing oneself, namely, using “I” statements as opposed to “You” statements. To highlight this difference consider the following two statements: “You never listen to me!” versus “I feel ignored”.

Choosing your words wisely is, however, only one component of being assertive. More important is believing that you actually have certain basic rights as a human being that include expressing yourself. Many people seem to have forgotten or may have never been told that these basic human rights exist. We, therefore, thought it might be helpful to review some of these rights. By no means is this an exclusive list. We encourage you to consider if there are any rights that we may not have included that are important to you. Reminding yourself of these rights can validate your own needs, opinions, and boundaries with others and, in doing so, make it easier to assert and express yourself. As always, we invite your thoughts, opinions, and questions.

Personal Bill of Rights
I have the right to express all my feelings, positive or negative.
I have the right to ask for what I want
I have the right to determine my own priorities
I have the right to not be responsible for other people’s behaviours, actions, feelings, or problems.
I have the right to say “no” to others without feeling guilty.
I have the right to take time to slow down and think.
I have the right to be uniquely myself or “my own person”.
I have the right to say, “I don’t know”.
I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings
I have the right to be in a non-abusive relationship.
I have the right to make mistakes
I have the right to be safe
I have the right to put myself first.
I have the right to dignity and respect
I have the right to love and be loved
I have the right to be human-not perfect
I have the right to my own personal space and time
I have the right to privacy
I have the right to be angry and protest if I am treated unfairly.
I have the right to earn and control my own money
I have the right to grow and change, including changing my mind.
I have the right to decide if and when, I choose to forgive my mistakes or anyone else’s mistakes
I have the right to be happy.

Philippa & Kerry

Comments

  1. Excellent advice for both at home in my personal relationship, but also in my work environment when working for a difficult boss. Thank you!

  2. Great article very helpful.

  3. Scott Goodman says:

    Assertiveness Personal Bill of Rights (and the Rights of others)

    1. I have the right to express all my feelings, positive or negative.
    a. Others have the equal right to express theirs and to agree or disagree with my feelings without retaliation from me.
    2. I have the right to ask for what I want.
    a. Others have the equal right to refuse my request without retaliation from me. However, using the Right to refuse a request by always refusing requests just to assert this Right is an abuse of this Right.
    3. I have the right to determine my own priorities.
    a. Others have the equal right set their priorities and to disagree with my reasons for my priorities without retaliation from me.
    4. I have the right to not be responsible for other people’s behaviours, actions, feelings, or problems.
    a. Others have the equal right to not be responsible for my behaviours, actions, feelings or problems without retaliation from me.
    5. I have the right to say “no” to others without feeling guilty.
    a. Others have the equal right to say no to me without retaliation from me.
    6. I have the right to take time to slow down and think.
    a. Others have the same right without retaliation from me.
    7. I have the right to be uniquely myself or “my own person”.
    a. Others have the same right without retaliation from me.
    8. I have the right to say, “I don’t know”.
    a. Others have the same right without retaliation from me.
    9. I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.
    a. Except when my decisions trample on the rights of others.
    10. I have the right to be in a non-abusive relationship.
    11. I have the right to make mistakes.
    a. Others do NOT have the right to interfere with this right on the pretext that they are “just trying to help”, unless my safety or life is in danger.
    12. I have the right to be safe.
    13. I have the right to put myself first.
    a. Others have the equal right to put themselves without retaliation from me.
    14. I have the right to dignity and respect.
    15. I have the right to love and be loved.
    a. But I do not have the right to demand acceptance of my love by others or demand that I be loved by others.
    16. I have the right to be human-not perfect.
    a. Others have the same right without retaliation from me.
    17. I have the right to my own personal space and time.
    a. Others have the same right without retaliation from me.
    18. I have the right to privacy.
    a. Others have the same right without retaliation from me.

    19. I have the right to be angry and protest if I am treated unfairly.
    a. Others have the same right without retaliation from me.
    20. I have the right to earn and control my own money.
    21. I have the right to grow and change, including changing my mind.
    22. I have the right to be happy.
    a. But not at the expense of the happiness of others.
    23. I have the right to decide, if and when I choose, to forgive my mistakes or anyone else’s mistakes.
    a. Others have the equal right to draw their own conclusions about my decision whether or not to forgive where it directly affects them or their right to be happy.

    Above all, always remember that the exercise of your rights carries with it the condition that you have to be willing to accept the consequences. Others may disagree with and reject your decisions and they might choose to have nothing to do with you as a result. That is their RIGHT!

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