Assertiveness is the ability to get what you want or need with confidence, without making others uncomfortable and unhappy. At its core, it is a set of behaviors which ensure one’s personal rights are not violated while also keeping the integrity of important relationships.
Assertiveness is one of the most useful skills that may be used both within and outside of the workplace. It helps you to communicate and stand up for yourself, turn No’s into Yes’s or “maybe’s” into definite yeses. In fact, assertiveness is the ability to make your wishes and needs known, while respecting the wishes and needs of others. The key word here is ‘respect’ as assertiveness means that you not only speak up in a confident way but that you also listen to the other person. Assertiveness skills are crucial for leadership positions and management in every aspect of life – at home, community, or workplace.
Some people are naturally assertive, others aren’t. Both types of personality can exist in the same person, but if you want to become more assertive. Being aggressive does not happen quickly, but the more you practice, the better you will become. And, although you may not always get your way, you will always know you tried your hardest. So here are the top 10 suggestions for enhancing your assertiveness:
1. Have greater faith in yourself
When we think positively, we’re sending positive messages to ourselves, and the messages can be very powerful. A positive attitude is a choice and the more powerful our choice is, the better results we’ll produce.
You have great ideas, and you are capable of making things happen. You deserve to feel good about yourself and your accomplishments. When you tap into your inner confidence, you will begin to see the world in a new light—one that makes it easier for you to achieve your goals and dreams.
2. Know that you can never change other people.
You are not responsible for other people’s actions. You can only be responsible for your own choices, and you can change the way you react to other people’s behavior. If you want to change or improve your relationships with the people in your life, then you must first change your own behavior.
3. Learn to respond rather than react:
When you are faced with a challenge, try to respond rather than react. This means setting aside your emotions and focusing on the consequences of your actions. For example, if someone cuts you off in traffic, try to think about what the consequences of honking at them might be. It could escalate the situation and lead to an accident. In this case, it’s better to let it go and focus on driving safely.
Focus on what you can do in response to the situation rather than how you feel about it. In this way you’re taking responsibility for your own behavior and making a conscious decision about how to act rather than just reacting emotionally.
4. Stop beating yourself up for your decisions and behaviors. It’s easy to get down on yourself for not being assertive enough, but the truth is that you’re already doing it. You’re beating yourself up over every little thing: you didn’t speak up when your boss asked you an awkward question during a meeting, or you didn’t tell your mom how much you love her when she called last night.
So next time this happens, don’t beat yourself up! Instead, just recognize that it’s happening and remind yourself that there will be another chance (and another chance after that). You’ll always have another chance to be assertive—and sometimes it takes several tries before we find our voice—but keep moving forward!
5. Watch your body language.
When you’re being assertive, always keep in mind that the way you say something is just as important as what you say. The tone of your voice, the expression on your face, and even the way you hold yourself can all send signals to others about how you’re feeling. If you want to be taken seriously, it’s important to make sure that all of these aspects are conveying the message you intend.
If we look at communicating assertively in terms of a triangle—where one side represents our words and another represents our tone of voice—then body language makes up the third side of the triangle. It can be just as important as the other two sides because it helps round out your overall message.
For example, if someone asks if they can speak with a coworker in private but their words are not very assertive, they might say something like “I’m sure this won’t take long.” However, if they use an assertive tone and make eye contact while saying this sentence (which indicates confidence), then it might have more impact than if they had just said it with no facial expression or eye contact.
6. Use the green cross code: STOP. LOOK. LISTEN
When you’re faced with an assertiveness challenge, try using the “green cross code” as a guide. The green cross code is a simple system that can help you navigate any situation where you feel like someone else is trying to take up too much space. It’s simple:
STOP: stop what you’re doing and take a moment to think things through. Make sure your actions are appropriate for the situation at hand.
LOOK: Evaluate what happened and why it happened in order for it to be appropriate for your situation. Take some time out from the problem and look at it from another perspective—what would happen if you did nothing? What could happen if you did something different? What can happen if you do nothing? Think about these questions until you have an answer that makes sense for your situation.
LISTEN: Listen to others’ ideas and opinions on the subject at hand—this is where compromise comes in! You might not agree with everything everyone says, but listening will help open up your mind and give those around you a chance to work with YOU instead of against YOU!
7. Aim towards problem resolution rather than self-defense.
When you’re assertive, you are not just arguing for your own rights. You’re trying to find a solution that works for both parties involved. When you take an argumentative stance, you’re often trying to win the battle by overpowering your opponent and making them concede. This can be a very effective way of getting what you want, but it’s rarely effective at resolving issues in the long run.
When you feel attacked, it’s natural to want to defend yourself. But if you respond in a way that just counters the other person’s statement, you’ll never get anywhere.
Instead, practice aiming for problem resolution—the goal is not for you to be right and the other person wrong. The goal is for both of you to have a conversation where both of your needs are taken into account.
If your co-worker says something like “You’re always late,” instead of defending yourself by saying “No I’m not!” try saying something like, “I’m sorry if I’ve been late lately, let’s figure out what’s going on.”
8. Consider and choose your words carefully.
When you’re assertive, you’re also focused on being respectful. You don’t want to be rude or hurtful, so it’s important that you choose the right words to express yourself.
Be assertive when you’re in a situation where you feel uncomfortable or worried about how you’ll be perceived. Remember that the only way to assert yourself is by being careful with the words you choose, and this means avoiding overly aggressive language.
Instead of saying “I’m not happy with this,” say “I’d like to express my disappointment.” Instead of saying “You’re wrong,” say “I respectfully disagree.”
If you feel like you need to be more assertive with someone in your life, consider these tips:
– Avoid accusatory language and passive-aggressive phrases.
– Don’t use threats or ultimatums.
– Be aware of tone and volume, which can influence how people respond to what you’re saying.
9. Say NO when you want to.
It’s okay if that sounds weird. We’ve been taught to say yes, all the time, even when we don’t mean it. But assertiveness means being able to have your own needs met and saying no means setting boundaries in your life so that you can meet your own needs.
So, if someone asks you for something and you’re not sure if you can do it or not, just say “I’ll get back to you.” Then take some time to think about whether or not you can realistically fulfill the request. if someone asks you for something, and you don’t want to give it to them—say no! If someone is asking for too much of your time or making demands on you—say no! You’re allowed to do what makes sense for you, and sometimes that means saying no.
10. Take a I CAN DO attitude.
Improving your assertiveness skills can be challenging, especially when you’re not sure how to do it. But one thing that will help you is taking a I CAN DO attitude.
When you think “I can do this,” it gives you the confidence and motivation to get the job done—and that’s exactly what assertive people do! They set goals, they take action, and they achieve them.
It may seem like a small change in thinking, but it has a big impact on your attitude and how much you accomplish. When you take on tasks, get them done quickly and efficiently, and finish them well. You can help others by sharing your knowledge and skills with them. Demonstrate your confidence in your ability to accomplish things by doing them!
So next time you’re feeling unsure of yourself, think I CAN DO instead!
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In many cases, this rule can be applied to assertiveness. For a situation to change, something must happen to force the change. Once you understand that you are the one who controls your own behavior; you are in charge of your actions and their consequences, it is then that you can make choices and decisions that will benefit you and those around you.