This article is highly influenced off Michael Powell’s: How to be Assertive. J Thank you Mr. Powell.
Let’s talk first about the difference between being assertive and being aggressive. Aggression or aggressive behavior is when one expresses their wants in a way much like a sucker punch. “Oh yeah, well take that!” They tend to push their views and communicate with threats or put-downs. “You are either with us or against us!” While an assertive person will express their needs in a direct way, yet maintain respect for the other person’s views and needs.
Note: Some people avoid being assertive because they don’t want to be unpopular, and have the mentality of: “Go along to get along.” Yet, in the end, if you honestly express yourself with empathy, you will see that you will be more likeable and worthy of respect.
Let’s get down to it. How to be Assertive with these helpful hints.
- Keep Calm! Anger is a sign of weakness not strength. Assertive people control their emotions. Now this is a hard one for some, namely me. A helpful tip: practice. My husband and I enjoy healthy debates on philosophical topics. You would be surprised how much practicing helps. If all else fails, and the person you are speaking with is out of control, sometimes listening, without speaking, can help, if that fails, don’t be afraid to walk away and talk to them later.
- Your words need to match your actions. Speak clearly, keep eye contact, and try to keep an open posture. I often like to have my hands palm up and open when I am in a negative situation. And keep in mind that honesty is the best, a simple: “I won’t, I’ve decided not to,” emphasizes that you have made up your mind. Try to avoid, “I can’t” because this implies that you have no power.
- Don’t apologize for your decision. Now this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apologize in life when you have done something wrong, making a decision is not wrong. Now before you think this means you are being mean…let’s take it with a context. From Mr. Powell: “If you receive a sales call from a company asking if they can spare a moment of your time, saying: “No, but thank you for calling. Goodbye.” Is a polite and assertive way of ending further communication, whereas saying: “No, sorry, I’m very busy at the moment…” gives the caller the option of asking “May I call you later?” which will probably result in another excuse from you: “No, sorry.” You end the conversation feeling guilty, exploited, and irritated.” A side note on this: I have family members in the call business, and I assure you, they would rather have an honest no, than someone who is lying to be “polite.” It wastes both of your time.
- Very important: You must acknowledge, inside of yourself, that you have every right to change your mind! Period. If your relationship has grown toxic, you are miserable, you have a right to walk away. Remember this is your life.
- You must understand what it is that you need in order to convey that in a conversation or situation. If you don’t know what you want, how can you express it?
- My favorite, something I do rather well with: Don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t be afraid to stand out in a crowd. Embrace your own identity. If you don’t drink, don’t be pressured into it. This is one that many have a hard time with, they feel this undeniable urge to conform, but this will and does prevent them from expressing their own needs. We see this a lot on Social Media. Think how wonderful the online world would be, if we could all grow up, be assertive…without being aggressive.
- This takes us right into the absolute must: You MUST understand that everyone, EVERYONE has a different opinion (this is the spice of life). If you understand this, you will understand that conflicts are inevitable, but with acceptances and assertive action, without being a dick, can help with navigating this sea of life. Example: I home school, but I still understand the importance and need for public schooling.
- Compromise. Ah, you thought being assertive meant you always get what you want. This one isn’t the easiest to sum up, so might I suggest reading books on negotiation.
- If you don’t have enough information take the time to ask questions and clarify your position as well as the other persons. Take your time, and never be bullied into making quick uninformed decisions.
- Lastly; remember that assertive behavior is a means to restore power balance into a relationship. It does not seek to: Win at all costs.