Okay, continuing our discussion on assertiveness, I would like to talk to day about the passive end of the assertiveness continuum. The picture to the left is a clue as to what those with passive tendencies end up being -- doormats.
Know before I get a bunch of nasty comments/e-mails, let me be clear that I don't mean to sound harsh. I understand how difficult it can be for people who tend to live at this end of the spectrum as, believe it or not, I used to spend much of my time there. Passive individuals often feel powerless, unheard and unimportant.
Having said that, my goal in discussing assertiveness is to help you the reader recognize where you are at on the continuum. As Dr. Phil would say: 1) we can't change what we don't acknowledge; and 2) we teach people how to treat us. Just something to consider.
Getting back to the topic, here are some characteristics of passive individuals:
- they often avoid conflict
- they have difficulty expressing their feelings, thoughts or opinions
- they allow others to infringe on their personal rights
- often apologize when they don't need to
- display passive body language
Don't discount that last part. Did you know that only about 10% of communication is our words? The majority of communication has to do with body language, tone of voice and so on. Having worked in a prison for several years, I would often ask those who committed random crimes against others how they picked their victims. They often replied that that there was 'just something about the way they carried themselves.' Upon further inquiry, this often meant crossed arms, head down, slumped shoulders, etc. Just something to ponder...
So, what are the implications for passive individuals? As I said earlier, these individuals often feel powerless, unheard and unimportant. They also are more likely to feel anxious and even depressed. Looking at the list of Basic of Assertive Rights discussed last time, passive individuals struggle with:
- Don't stand up for themselves
- Accept being treated in a disrespectful manner
- Very rarely say 'no'
- Do not express their thoughts and feelings
- Have difficulty asking for what they want
- Have difficulty asking for more information or explanation
- Become anxious if they make mistakes
- Often do not feel good about themselves
Keep in mind that for some, passive tendencies may be situational, e.g., they may be passive with certain friends or with the in-laws or in new situations or the like.
So in summary, passive individuals have a difficult time standing up for themselves thus allowing others to walk on their individuals rights. This definitely comes at a personal expense. Do you struggle with being passive? Is it situational for you? Share your thoughts and comments! We will continue our discussion next time...