Assertive indifference: what is it and how does it apply to conflict?

Assertive indifference is a term that, although seemingly contradictory, is actually one of the best strategies we can use to overcome relationship conflict.

Originally applied to the realm of relationships, the underlying idea is applicable to absolutely any environment in which social interaction takes place, where one subject attempts to provoke another by saying or doing something offensive. .

Assertive indifference is a behavior that intentionally blocks any type of external reaction to an unpleasant stimulus., pretending not to affect us. Let’s take a closer look at what it consists of.

    What is asserted indifference?

    You probably know what indifference is, and you probably know what assertiveness is. Indifference is the state of mind in which a person does not feel inclined or rejected towards another subject; and assertiveness, a very popular term in psychology, is the ability to be able to say what you think without being aggressive. Knowing both terms, we may find the term “assertive indifference” a bit contradictory, although I’m sure you’ve put it into practice more than once.

    One wonders how this concept can exist. If assertiveness is the ability to say what we think, to claim or defend our rights without resorting to physical or verbal violence, how is it possible that there is something called indifference? affirmed ? The truth is that one can indeed be assertively indifferent and, in fact, it is a very effective thing. Stated indifference is a very useful tool when we want to avoid conflict with others or manipulate ourselves. It is a question of voluntarily blocking any external reaction to a stimulus of social origin.

    To put it more bluntly, it is a question of avoiding getting into the rags. It’s the age-old strategy not to get emotional when someone tries to provoke us. It is to apply the maxim of “to foolish words, the deaf ear”. And not just words, but also offensive gestures or any action directed at us with the intention of making us react irritably. To be assuredly indifferent is to not react and remain the same as we were in an annoying or embarrassing situation.

    So that we can understand it better, let’s look at it with a worldly example. Let’s imagine that a classmate gives us a nickname, which bothers us a lot. In this particular situation, to respond with asserted indifference would be to not be moved when this person addresses us with this nickname. By doing so, we are telling him that we don’t care how he calls us. This way, we won’t create conflict, and that partner will probably stop doing so over time.

    Of course, it’s pretending. It’s simulated behavior, behaving in a way that we don’t care about. If they tell us something ugly, everyone’s natural reaction is to respond and get defensive, but that would be like throwing firewood at them. Instead, by not responding when someone says or does something that bothers us, we make it clear to the sender that this behavior does not affect us at all. The idea is not to show the other person how we feel.

    So what we seek with this indifference is not showing our true emotions to those who try to provoke us. In this way, he will not know our weaknesses and will not be able to take advantage of them by manipulating us. It also happens that by applying this tool, not reacting to what they tell us or make unpleasant will prevent a conflict that will go further. This tool is able to eliminate any malicious behavior towards us, it just takes a little strength, patience and letting time pass.

      Affirmed indifference within the couple

      This kind of indifference it can be used for absolutely any relationship, being the one in which the most useful is that of the couple. Relationships are often rose gardens, but others also become battlegrounds. Power play dynamics can occur within the couple and one of them wants to test the influence he is able to have on the other. Both men and women do it, in heterosexual relationships and also in homosexuals.

      One of the times when this is most evident is when what is colloquially called temptation occurs. This is when one of the members of the couple wants to prove the influence he has over the other, especially at the beginning of the relationship. This also happens when the couple breaks up and without much conviction, one of the two former members wants to measure his chances of resuming the relationship.

      As we can see, it is a force impulse. In order to prevent this from happening, asserted indifference is crucial, a tool that, in this context, would prevent us from certain conflicts during the relationship, in addition to avoiding certain emotional manipulations and blackmail when the relationship is over.

      Using assertive indifference can serve to prevent certain conflicts during the relationship, or to avoid certain manipulations when the relationship is over. Pretending not to feel anything, even if it’s not true, is a good tactic for protect yourself from escalating psychological manipulation.

        A tool to protect us from conflicts

        As mentioned, assertive indifference is applicable to many social spheres. This tool is applicable to any day-to-day conflict situation.

        Differences with others, even those closest to you, are part of the routine. In most cases, these differences are not significant but sometimes lead to larger conflicts. It’s as if a small spark could set an entire barn on fire. One way or another, we constantly have to decide whether to drive this difference to unsuspected levels.

        It is precisely a trait of assertiveness to decide what is important and what is not. Assertiveness is still that social skill that allows us effectively defend our rights, end abuse without being aggressive or violent. However, for it to be effective, we must also learn to distinguish when our rights are seriously threatened and when they are not.

        Not all conflict situations require us to actively do something. Letting go, which is part of assertive indifference, is comparing the pros and cons of responding to something that hurts us. Responding to a disparaging comment or offensive gesture should only be done if it endangers our physical integrity or deprives us of some value.

        We can conclude that assertive indifference is a tool for intelligently manage potentially conflicting situations. Doing nothing may be the best way to deal with a provocation or an attack. Not being able to do anything when in the depths of our being we would like to attack is certainly one of the best ways to avoid absurd conflicts.

        Bibliographic references

        • OnlineRoca, E. (2014). How to improve your social skills. Acde.
        • Carmona, CGH and Melo, NA (1999). Interpersonal Communication: Social Skills Training Program. Alfaomega.
        • Moreno-Jiménez, B., Blanco-Donoso, LM, Aguirre-Camacho, A., De Rivas, S., & Herrero, M. (2014). Social skills for new organizations. Behavioral Psychology, 22(3), 585.

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