People aim to be more confident, but not everyone knows how to be assertive. Assertiveness is a core communication skill. It can help you stand up for your point of view and express yourself effectively while also respecting the beliefs and rights of others.
Assertiveness falls between passiveness and aggressiveness. If you’re aggressive about voicing your opinion, you may come across as hostile – or worse – a bully. On the other hand, you may come across as submissive when you’re passive with your viewpoints.
What can do you to become more assertive?
Here are a few suggestions to help you become more comfortable speaking up and advocating for yourself:
- Exercise the Power of “I”
You can be assertive without sounding hostile by using statements that begin with “I.” Make a habit of saying things like “I feelâ€¦” or “I believeâ€¦”
Also, never use aggressive phrases or language like “You alwaysâ€¦” or “You neverâ€¦” Statements like these trigger people, leaving them annoyed or frustrated. What’s worse, they may attempt to shut down the conversation when they hear you like that.
Here’s an example: let’s say you want to encourage your friend to go on a heroin use disorder rehab. Rather than say, “You’re always high. You should get yourself checked on rehab,” say, “I feel concerned about your habit. I want to support you in seeking professional help.”
“I” statements allow you to be assertive and confident without eliminating and alienating other people.
2. Speak Concisely and Straight to the Point
When you are practicing assertiveness, you need to speak in a way that does not make the other person feel guilty or imply accusations. Speaking your truth with candor does not mean making others feel bad or wrong.
Be concise, direct, and simple. State what you believe is true for you. Less is more when you’re trying to assert yourself. Keep your requests free of long-winded or meandering explanations.
3. Use Positive Self-Talk
Being assertive can be difficult when you’re in the moment. That’s why you should mentally pump yourself with a little positive self-talk.
The idea of embracing positivity may sound a bit corny. If you are about to talk to someone where you’ll need to put your foot down, though, you’ll need to pump yourself up with positive thoughts, such as “My time is important” or “I’ve got this in the bag.”
4. Keep a Cool Head
Being assertive could make you feel excited. This excitement, however, can sometimes come across as aggression.
Learn to stay calm and cool when expressing your views. This will make you more confident and let the other person relax. Breathe normally and be mindful of eye contact and body language.
5. Understand and Accept Differences
Assertiveness does not entail dismissing other people’s points of view. Just as you express your opinion, you work to understand other viewpoints.
Don’t allow differences to make you angry or upset you. These differences do not necessarily mean that you’re correct and the other side or person is wrong. Listen to the opinions respectfully and avoid interrupting people when they’re speaking.
6. Use Body Language
Communication isn’t just limited to talking. You have to act confident even if you are not feeling it. Maintain an upright posture, but don’t forget to lean forward a bit.
Also, maintain a positive or neutral facial expression. Avoid crossing your legs or arms when you are talking to somebody.
7. Rehearse with a Person You Know and Trust
If you have a major problem that you are trying to address, consider roleplaying with a trusted friend or family member by different practicing a range of conversation styles. Write your opinion down on a piece of paper. Then, say whatever you want to say aloud.
Don’t forget to ask for feedback on how clear you are coming across, as well as how other people may view the situation. Focus on how your friend or family member responds to your body language or tone of voice.
Also, check if you are communicating your points of view effectively without becoming hostile or shy. Then, fine-tune your approach according to the feedback you receive.
8. Set Boundaries
Boundaries are the limits and rules you create for yourself. They will help you decide what you will and won’t allow. You don’t want people to think that you’re a bully. At the same time, you won’t want people to walk over you. Establishing boundaries will empower you to figure out when you need to say yes and no.
Assertiveness is just like any other skill – you need time and practice to get it right. Take note of these suggestions to help you feel more confident during meetings and conversations.
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