Assertiveness – Showing Empathy in Crisis Situations


  • Is the effective expression of oneself and at the same time standing up for your view point whilst you also respect the rights and beliefs of others
  • It is a way of behaving forcefully without ignoring or trampling  on the rights of other people
  • It is a means that you can confidently but peacefully demonstrate your right or point of view
  • The opposite of assertiveness is passiveness  


One is assertive for the following key points:

1. Assertive as an individual:

  1. He/she possesses self-confident
  2. Builds confidence and stands for his/her opinion/decision

2. Assertive in a group:

  1. You put your points across to the others in a confident and non-aggressive manner
  2. You recognize other people’s point of view
  3. Respecting the other group’s ideas and opinions
  4. Being tolerance of the differences between your group and the other group
  5. Putting your points across convincingly

3. Assertive on a one-to-one relationship

  1. Being firm but polite
  2. You acknowledge and are confident in what you stand for

Benefits of Assertiveness

  • It helps to boost one’s self-esteem (explain the meaning of self-esteem)
  • You earn respect for others
  • It helps to control stress  and anger and improve coping skills especially with too many responsibilities because you have a hard time saying no
  • It is a core communication skills
  • It gives the best chance of successfully delivering your message
  • You stand up for your right
  • You respect yourself and others
  • You are confident but not pushy

Outcomes of Assertiveness:

  1. It is self-fulfilling
  2. It makes you escape from trouble
  3. It prevents teenage and unwanted pregnancies
  4. Its prevents infections Ebola disease


1. Assertive Person:

  1. States his/her opinions, while still being respectful to others
  2. Speaks openly
  3. Uses the conversational tone
  4. Makes good eye contact
  5. Shows expressions that match the message
  6. Relaxes and adopts an open posture and expressions
  7. Participates in groups
  8. Speaks to the point
  9. Values self-equal to others
  10. Tries to hurt no one including him/herself
  11. Usually reaches goals without alienating others
  12. I’m okay, you are okay

2. Passive Person:

  1. Doesn’t state their opinions at all
  2. Speaks softly
  3. Avoids looking at people
  4. Shows little or no expression
  5. Moves and withdraws sluggishly
  6. Isolates self from groups
  7. Agrees with others, despite feelings
  8. Values self-less than others
  9. In a group but dormant
  10. Hurts self to avoid hurting others
  11. Does not reach goals and may not know goals
  12. You’re okay , I’m not

 3. Aggressive Person:

  1. Attacks or ignore others’ opinions in favour of their own
  2. Interrupts and talks over others
  3. Speaks loudly
  4. Glares and stares at others
  5. Creates fear with expressions
  6. Stands rigidly, crosses arms, invades others’ personal space
  7. Controls groups
  8. Only considers own feelings, and/or demands of others
  9. Values self-more than others
  10. Hurts others to avoid being hurt
  11. Reaches goals but hurts others in the process
  12. I’m okay, you’re not



  • is concern for other people
  • it is the ability to see the world as another person, to share  and understand another person’s feelings, needs, concerns and/or state emotional
  • the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s position
  • The ability to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from us. For example: concerns for orphans/survivors, for health workers in general, for their families who have lost loved ones through Ebola, marginalized children, out of school children, children whose parents are very poor, deprived with low self-esteem, war affected and refugee families, Ebola affected and abandoned children, etc.


  • It is an innate behavioral quality that can be developed
  • It can come naturally to most people
  • It possesses good power of imagination to see the world from the perspective of other people
  • It is a selfless act
  • It enables us to learn more about people
  • It is a desirable skill that is beneficial to ourselves, others and society
  • Phrases or statements such as: being in your shoes and soul mates are all examples of empathy
  • It is compared to spiritual or religious state of connection with other person or group of people
  • It is the most advanced of all communication skills

Being empathetic has two components:

  1. Effective communication (understanding is desired in any communication process)
  2. Strong imagination (good powers to empathize with others) 


  • The different is that with sympathy, you feel pity or sorry for another person
  • While with empathy, you feel with others
  • When you empathize, you enjoy better relationship with others and greater being through life.

Life Skills

What is Life Skills?

The concept is not easy to define. Life Skills are terms that do not have one definition. However, some writers have defined Life Skills as:

  1. “The skills needed by an individual to operate effectively in society in an active and constructive way”
  2. “Life Skills are personal and social skills required for people to function confidently and competently with themselves, other people, and the wider community”.
  3. “Life Skills are abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands of everyday life”.

What does life skills in crisis situation important?

It helps individuals to:

  • Know their strengths and limitations
  • Pursue creative and critical  thinking
  • become empathetic and coexist amicably with others
  • be assertive and have the skills to communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively
  • identify, cope and find solutions to difficult or challenging situations – even in crisis situations

Importance of Life Skills:

Life Skills can help young people to:

  • make positive healthy choices and avoid risky behavior even at moments of disasters/crisis events
  • make informed choices
  • resist peer pressure
  • form and develop mutual beneficial relationship

Benefits Associated with Life Skills Education include:

  • Acquisition of knowledge
  • Positive changes in behavior and attitude
  • Enhancement of STIs including HIV  prevention and  other related reproductive health issues
  • Enhancement of the prevention of mental health and psychosocial problems during crisis situations like the Freetown mudslide and flooding experience.

Types of Life Skills

Basic life skills includes, though not limited to the following:

  • Decision-making
  • problem solving
  • Assertiveness
  • Empathy (concern for others)
  • Creative thinking
  • Resisting peer pressure
  • Effective communication
  • Negotiating friendship
  • Interpersonal relationship
  • Goal setting
  • Coping with stress and emotions

What other Skills are confused with Life Skills

In most situations people get confused in understanding life skills from other skills like livelihood skills. It is good to be able to know the difference between these two skills.

Livelihood Skills

These are skills which prepare young people to obtain and keep satisfying job opportunities which include:

  1. Developing Curriculum Vitae skills
  2. Job-searching skills
  3. Interviewing skills
  4. Effective communication skills
  5. Entrepreneurial skills
  6. Marketable skills to enhance functionalism

Life Stills for Psycho social competence

Psycho social competence is a person’s ability to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. It is the person’s ability to maintain a state of mental well being and to demonstrate this in adaptive and positive behavior while interacting with others, his/her culture and environment.

Psycho social competence has an important role to play in the promotion of health in its broadest sense; in terms of physical, mental and social well-being.  In particular, where health problems are related to behavior, and where the behavior is related to an inability to deal effectively with stresses and pressures in life, the enhancement of psycho social competence could make an important contribution.  This is especially important for health promotion at a time when behavior is more and more implicated as the source of health and social problems due to crisis events.

The most direct interventions for the promotion of psycho social competence are those which enhance the person’s coping resources, and personal and social competencies.  In school-based programs for children and adolescents, this can be done by the teaching of life skills in a supportive learning environment.

How life skills are related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or HIV prevention as a result of crisis events?

Life skills for PTSD prevention are the knowledge and skills that are transmitted to people that need to avoid potential mental health and psycho social problems and adhere to information giving to them by social, medical, mental health practitioners. If this information is put into practice, there is the likely of reducing stress and traumatic level leading to the prevention of mental health and psycho social (MHPS) problems.

Also, Life skills for prevention are the knowledge and skills needed to avoid HIV infection and maintain healthy life style. Life skills reduce the likelihood of HIV and other Sexually Transmission Infections (STIs), thus promoting people’s self-worth and identity.

In addition, Life skills provide the education to internet with others and strengthen their problem solving skills in adhering to health messages in relation crisis events.

Furthermore, we are frightened and confused because we are unsure what the future holds for us after a crisis situation.

A major example of Life Skills (Decision Making)

Decision-making is defined as:

  1. deciding about something especially for example, among a group of people, more so, the group of young people
  2. Selection of a course of action from among two or more possible alternatives in order to arrive at a solution for a problem

Why decision–making is difficult?

There are good reasons why it is difficult to make decision especially with/for adolescents to make up their mind. Adolescence are children between the ages of 10- 19. With adolescence, there is agony of decision-making because:

  1. There are conflicting relationship between making choices and preserving freedom as one cannot do the first (make decision) without reducing the second (preserving freedom),
  2. When you choose one course of action, a host of alternative courses become closed up.
  3. For a young person of an age when more freedom to grow is more important, the human reality is very hard to accept
  4. All decisions reduce more freedom than they create.

Good Decision-Making:

Good decision is one of the most powerful skills that children need to learn as they progress through childhood into adulthood. But it is not a skill that is developed really on its own as children grow up.

Parents and caregivers should teach children why popular culture and technology (social media) can cause them to make poor decision and guide them in learning how to make good decision.