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7 Ways to be assertive and charitable at the same time

A young woman speaks at a volunteer meeting

Drazen Zigic | Shutterstock

Cerith Gardiner - published on 10/23/23

When managed well, these two traits can be beneficial for all concerned and lead to some truly positive outcomes.

You might think that being both assertive and charitable at the same time is impossible to achieve. After all, the very nature of charity requires putting the needs of other people before your own. However, in helping others it’s important not to lose yourself in the process. And actually being both assertive and charitable makes for a powerful combination that can promote healthy interactions and foster positive relationships.

The cornerstone of this approach is recognizing the inherent dignity of all human beings. In fact, by valuing and respecting every individual, we can cultivate assertiveness in a way that uplifts others as well as ourselves.

Understanding Human Dignity

To be assertive while charitable, it’s important to first recognize the intrinsic worth of every person. Understanding that every individual possesses unique experiences, perspectives, and feelings is crucial. This acknowledgment lays the foundation for respectful communication and genuine empathy.

Active Listening and Empathy

Being assertive doesn’t entail dominating conversations. Instead, it involves active listening and responding thoughtfully. Acknowledge the viewpoints of others, demonstrating empathy by putting yourself in their shoes. This not only validates their feelings but also shows that you value their input, nurturing a sense of dignity.

Expressing Yourself Clearly and Respectfully

Assertiveness requires the ability to express your thoughts, needs, and boundaries clearly and respectfully — this isn’t always easy if you shy away from conflict. A great way to assert yourself positively is to avoid passive-aggressive language or dominating conversations. Where possible, strive for a balanced approach that ensures your voice is heard without belittling others. Remember, being assertive doesn’t equate to being aggressive.

Seeking Win-Win Solutions

When assertiveness meets charity, the goal should be to find solutions that benefit all parties involved. This approach is rooted in the belief that every person deserves respect and consideration. By actively working towards mutually beneficial outcomes, you uphold the dignity of others while asserting your own needs.

Setting Boundaries with Compassion

Respecting the dignity of others also means recognizing the importance of personal boundaries. Communicate your limits in a compassionate manner, emphasizing that these boundaries are not meant to undermine anyone’s worth but to maintain healthy relationships. This approach will help generate an environment of mutual respect.

Using “I” Statements

“I” statements are a powerful tool in assertive communication. They allow you to express your thoughts, feelings, and needs without placing blame on others. For example, saying, “I feel …” or “I need …” demonstrates self-awareness and a willingness to share while preserving the dignity of all parties involved.

Practice Patience and Tolerance

Being assertive while charitable demands patience and tolerance. Recognize that not everyone will respond positively or immediately to your assertiveness. Try to allow space for others to process and be open to feedback. This approach reflects a commitment to valuing the unique journey and experiences of every individual.

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