Admit it; you really wanted that promotion at work. You know that if you had been more direct, you might have gotten it, but the truth is that you are afraid to be assertive.
Like many of us, you want to learn how to be more assertive, but you are holding yourself back. Often, people are intimidated by the idea of empowering themselves and don’t know where to begin.
Perhaps it is because you are confusing aggressive behavior with assertiveness, and you prefer to avoid conflict. Or maybe it is because you don’t feel worthy of the gifts that you could achieve.
Whatever the reason, you can learn how to stand up for yourself by exercising these six steps towards becoming more assertive.
1. Practice Assertive Communication
Practicing assertive behavior begins with communication. The language with which you choose to express yourself can determine not only how others perceive you but also how you perceive yourself.
There are varying ways that we can communicate our desires and also what we dislike. Passive communication is when we indirectly de-emphasize its importance to us, whereas aggressive communication is an attempt to force others into feeling the same way.
Assertive communication means that we clearly and respectfully ask for what we want and say no to what we don’t want.
Assertive communication involves a mutual respect for yourself as well as respect for others around you.
2. Differentiate Between Aggressive and Assertive
To embrace assertiveness, you need to understand the difference between assertive and aggressive behavior. This is particularly true if you are someone who fears conflict or is overly concerned about being perceived as ‘likable.’
Aggressive behavior is combative and aims itself at an outside source. Aggressive actions often result in negative responses because of their hostile nature. As humans, our reaction to aggressive behavior is fight or flight; either way, you are not making any friends!
Assertive behavior allows for the honest expression of needs and boundaries while respecting the desires and the limitation of others. “Assertive behavior is usually honest, direct, expressive, spontaneous, and self-enhancing.”
Learn to free yourself from the negative connotations of assertiveness and embrace your empowerment.
3. Have Confidence in Your Values
One key element to becoming more assertive is having confidence in yourself. You are constructed of opinions, values, and ethics, which are important to your identity.
Use your integrity to fuel your assertiveness. If you feel strongly about a particular subject, don’t be afraid to express your views.
Assertive people not only know themselves well; they are proud of who they are. Rarely do they second guess their decisions or concede in order to please someone else.
You can practice being more assertive by merely remaining loyal to your ambitions and staying true to your word.
Every day, you will be tested-even in seemingly insignificant ways-on your core beliefs. When you hold an unwavering stance, you are also developing assertive behavior.
4. Use “I” Statements
If you are concerned about coming across aggressive during a discussion, a good approach is to use “I” statements when expressing yourself. This technique is particularly helpful when approaching an awkward conversation.
Self-respecting people understand that they have the right to articulate their views in a conversation equally. Starting with “I” will teach you how to speak more assertively, but it also maintains respect for others involved.
Statements such as “I feel” are generally received more positively than starting with an accusatory tone such as “you never.”
“I” statements also hold yourself more accountable. When you are speaking for yourself, you are holding your own ground.
5. Take a Pro-Active Approach to Conflict
If you are still getting comfortable with becoming more assertive, it could be that you are also afraid of conflict. In order to empower yourself, try altering the way that you view opposition.
A disagreement does not need to lead to antagonistic behavior, although it can if all parties could take an aggressive stance. Often, we aim to be right rather than work to find a solution to a problem.
Instead of viewing conflict as an opportunity to fight, you can see it as a chance to utilize your problem-solving skills. By working towards a solution, you not only validate the perspective of your opponent, but you are also exuding an unwavering sense of positivity.
Maintaining assertiveness in times of conflict generally leads to a win-win outcome. If you can stay strong within yourself during stormy times, chances are, you will avoid the hurricane altogether.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice!
The best way to perfect your skills is to practice them consistently. If you are new to assertiveness, employing these techniques may feel awkward at first; that’s completely normal.
You can seek the help of a friend with whom you could develop scenarios that test your ability to act assertively. Or you could train yourself in front of the mirror if you are anticipating a conversation that will require you to stand up for yourself.
The Universe will present you with both minor and significant opportunities to empower yourself. Maintain self-awareness and try to catch yourself when you fall back into passive behaviors.
If you prefer to work with a coach, you can also explore online Assertiveness Training courses. And if the reason that you lack the self-confidence to become more assertive is personal, exploring therapy may be a better option.
The more you practice, the more natural this trait will become. Having a supportive network with whom you can hone your skills will make the process more enjoyable.
Believe In Your Worth
Asking for what you need and speaking your truth is fundamental to your personal and professional growth. The scariest step of all is believing that you are deserving of all that the Universe has to offer you.
If you are afraid of coming off too pushy, remember that respect for others begins with self-respect. Hold your head high and remind yourself that it is ok to be assertive.