Assertiveness is an important part of communication. When you’re assertive, you’re standing up for yourself while respecting others. It’s also an excellent way to enhance your self-esteem and self-respect. The inability to be assertive suggests that part of you doesn’t believe you’re deserving of your request.
The ability to be assertive also provides you with the power to say, “No” to others.
Try these strategies to enhance your assertiveness and get the respect you deserve:
1. Give your opinion freely. Practice your ability to be assertive. Always give an opinion when asked. Avoid saying, “I don’t care” or “Whatever you want is fine.” Tell the people in your life what movie you want to see and the restaurant you want to try this weekend.
2. Keep the focus on yourself. Rather than saying, “Your opinion is wrong”, say, “I don’t agree with your statement.” The first way attacks the other person and is aggressive. The second option is assertive.
3. Focus on win-win. Aggressiveness focuses on winning at the expense of others. Assertiveness is much more balanced.
• Think about the needs of the other person and strive to find a solution that benefits both of you.
4. Value yourself. Remind yourself that your thoughts, desires, and rights are just as important as those of everyone else. It’s fair to protect your rights, and you have the right to be treated with respect.
5. Be clear on what you want. Others are more likely to accommodate your requests when you’re clear about your needs. It’s not enough to express your displeasure. Tell others what you want.
6. Be prepared for the response. Your needs won’t always be met. Others still have the right to say, “No.” The only way to avoid all refusals is never to ask in the first place. But consider where that strategy leads. You lose self-esteem, self-respect, and the feeling of control over your life. And your needs will still be unmet.
• It can be nerve-wracking to be assertive, but the other alternative is much less desirable.
7. Maintain good eye contact. Avoid staring at the floor. You’re taken much more seriously when you make good eye contact.
• Stand up straight, walk confidently, and carry yourself assertively. This requires practice. Take every opportunity to practice your non-verbal behaviors.
8. Stay calm. Assertive people are calm, cool, and collected. People that yell, scream, and pout are aggressive and attempting to force others to comply. If you’re not calm, you’re not being assertive.
• Take a deep breath and speak your mind.
9. Remember that there’s no downside. Your request might be refused. That’s as bad as it can get. You can’t lose anything. At worst, you’re stuck in the same position. Being assertive can only bring positive or neutral results. It’s like gambling in Vegas without the potential to lose money. How exciting is that?
10. You can only control your own actions. We can’t control others with a high degree of certainty. Asserting yourself is the most effective action you can take. It costs nothing except a small amount of courage, yet you can receive so much in return. Focus on being assertive and let the chips fall where they may.
Give others the gift of giving you what you want! Being assertive is grounded in the premise that you’re important and worthy of stating your opinion and making requests of others. Standup for yourself and let the people around you know what you need from them. Most of them would be thrilled to accommodate you!