To be assertive is just another way to say you are a bold, confident person. Learning to be assertive may sound easy, but it can pose a real challenge for those of us with a more quiet disposition. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that there is a time and place to be assertive, and here are some of the benefits of doing so in the correct setting.
- Being assertive can help boost confidence and prevent you from being pushed around.
- It helps earn respect from bosses and peers and can create a strong reputation.
- It creates a strong presence that naturally attracts other strong people, especially those of the opposite sex.
There are risks to both assertiveness and passiveness, but here are some of the biggest struggles you will face if you can’t learn to be more assertive in your life.
- You may get pushed around, bullied, or treated like a doormat.
- People will not respect you, and you may get overlooked for promotions or raises.
- You may make certain people uncomfortable and less likely to want to be around you, including in social events or one-on-one interactions.
How To Be More Assertive
Assertiveness does not come naturally to a lot of people, but anyone is capable of learning. Like any learned skill in life, it takes practice before it becomes easy. Learning the appropriate time and place to be assertive requires certain social skills that you may or may not already have, but can also learn. In order for you to find a good balance between being reserved and being assertive, let’s look at a few key steps that will help you on your journey.
Know When to Speak Up
Sometimes in this world, you’re going to come across crappy people. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the way it is, and we have to learn how to adapt.
If you think someone may be trying to take advantage of you, or if you feel disrespected, it is okay to speak up. Try not to let your emotions get in the way—you don’t need to be aggressive, just assertive.
To speak up assertively does not require you to raise your voice or be hostile toward another person in any way. You can keep it lighthearted, even pleasant, but be sure to make your point clearly and boldly.
You can learn to speak up about small things, such as someone cutting you in line, and work your way up to more important things like your boss overlooking you for a raise you deserve.
If people know that you’re typically soft-spoken and passive, they may simply assume that they can take advantage of that, and you won’t say anything. So instead, you need to let people know that you deserve respect.
You can be friendly while still being assertive; you just have to make sure you get your point across. Simply say something like, “Excuse me, I believe you just jumped in front of me. I’ve been waiting a while, so I’m going to have to ask you to get in line behind me.”
Speaking to your boss or any authority figure may require a bit more discretion. You want to be sure that you are still being respectful and not jeopardizing your chance of future promotions or raises. Ask to speak with your supervisor alone, and ask them a question like, “I was wondering what I could be doing better, that you decided to pass up on giving me a raise? I think I’ve been doing well, but maybe I’m missing something.”
One would think that respect is a human right, but unfortunately, some people do not believe this is the case. So sometimes you need to demand respect to get it, especially from the ones who gain something by you not speaking up.
Be Clear & Decisive
To confidently stand up for what you want, you have to know exactly what that is. If you have a clear picture in your mind of the goal you are trying to achieve, you’ll have a much easier time fighting for it and explaining it to others.
Before you speak to anyone regarding a change, be sure you know precisely what the outcome you want looks like and can confidently portray that to other people. Sometimes it may even be best to ask them to repeat your point back to you, to ensure you are both on the same page. This applies to both the workplace, as well as in relationships. Your ability to firmly communicate what you want, or need is critical in maintaining healthy boundaries in any relationship.
The same goes for your position in the workplace. If you never made it known that you wanted that promotion, why would anyone think to give it to you? Go into a job with the intention of moving up, and let your actions reflect that. If you act like you deserve less, that’s exactly what you will get.
Don’t Back Down
So, you decided to speak up about something, like the person who cut you off in line. What happens when they aren’t so easily persuaded? What if they respond with, “No, actually I was here first, so you can stay behind me.” Do you cave, or do you stand up for yourself?
It can be difficult to determine when something is truly worth the trouble of asserting yourself. If someone cuts you off in line and refuses to move, this probably isn’t the time to go all in. Just be the bigger person—you’ll get your coffee only two minutes later, anyway.
However, in something such as a job promotion or raise, or maybe another important issue in any relationship, you have to decide how much it’s worth to you. If it’s something you truly want and care about, you need to hold your ground.
Maybe your boss told you, “Yes, you’re doing a great job, I just didn’t think it warranted a pay bump.”. This is a good opportunity to hold your ground and explain all the reasons why you believe it does warrant a pay raise.
If you have a hard time in the dating field because you often feel rejected, this is a good opportunity not to back down. This is another situation where social skills are key—you don’t want to be overbearing or inadvertently disrespect the person. But if you are simply brushed off without a second thought, by all means, try again. Strike up another conversation, ask them questions, or offer to do an activity together rather than just sitting and talking.
People love to be chased, sought after, and worth fighting for. Sometimes, that means you must do a little bit of chasing to get what you want. Don’t back down at the slightest inconvenience; keep pushing until you either achieve your goal or it becomes abundantly clear that this is not the right approach.
Keep Your Composure
Keeping your emotions under control is a two-step process; internal and external. We may think that we can hide how we are feeling by simply not talking about it, but this is not the case. Humans are extremely perceptive, whether we know it or not at the time. We can often determine what someone is thinking or feeling by what they are doing with their body.
Body language is a huge part of human communication. No matter how much we may try to hide our emotions, they generally come out in some shape or form through body language. For example, if you’re stressed, you may touch your face more or run your fingers through your hair. Some people stretch their necks instead, trying to release the tension.
Confident people often have an air about them based on how they stand or present themselves, usually standing up tall, chin up, and maintaining eye contact. Insecure people, however, generally retract in on themselves. This can be crossing their arms, slouching, looking down, or fidgeting a lot.
It may sound uncomfortable but practicing your body language in the mirror can be largely beneficial. Compare yourself to someone you admire or respect, and practice doing what they do. How you portray yourself in body language speaks volumes about being assertive.
It’s Okay to Say No
Sometimes you won’t get exactly what you’re hoping for right away. You may have to make sacrifices along the way to get what you want in the long run. If your boss refuses to give you that raise or offers you less than you were hoping, you have a choice to make. You can accept it or say no and walk away to find something better.
Let’s say you’re looking to date or pursue a serious relationship, and someone tells you they’re just looking for sex. You could accept it and settle for hooking up, or you could pass and find someone who will give you what you’re truly looking for. Be confident that you deserve the best, and sometimes saying no in the moment means saying yes to something better later.
Don’t Be a Prick
It’s easy to mistake confidence for arrogance, and assertiveness with rudeness. Try to be aware of your tone of voice and body language and be sure you’re not coming across as mean or threatening. You want to be firm, but not be a bully.
Keep the confrontation friendly and respectful, and always be aware of the other person’s body language and emotional state. Don’t try to intimidate people into giving you what you want—nobody likes a jerk.
Treat others the way you want to be treated. If you are trying to gain respect, you must be respectful of others. If you are trying to make people listen to you, you need to open your ears and listen to them, too. Don’t be selfish about your needs; think about how it will affect others around you as well. People are much more inclined to want to help out a kind, likable person than they would a bulldozer of a person who goes around making demands.
Keep in mind that sometimes, the person you’re talking to might not be the one who has the answers you’re looking for. Maybe your supervisor need to speak with his supervisor before anyone gets a pay bump. Keep an open mind, and don’t assume that everyone is just out to get you.
Shoot for the Stars
Do not be ashamed of aiming big. Have a positive attitude and be confident that you deserve the best, and you’ll get it. You might flounder a few times before you get there, but don’t let that stop you. Be unapologetically optimistic about the outcome you’re hoping to achieve.
If you’re unhappy in a relationship, talk with your partner about some big changes that you need to see take place. Then, ask them what you can be doing better or what they need to see changed as well. Relationships are all about compromise, and if you’re going to demand something, you better be ready to reciprocate.
Be competitive about what you’re working towards. If you and another coworker are both up for that promotion, don’t be sour about the competition. Make it fun and be a good sport. Don’t take it easy or give up on your dreams because you think someone else deserves it more than you do. It’s great to want to help others be successful, but don’t do it to your own detriment. You’ll be in a much better position to help others once you’re the one at the top.