3 Tips for Increasing Assertiveness
Assertiveness can be defined as the ability to communicate effectively while maintaining positive and peaceful relations with one’s self and others. Without assertiveness, our needs get overlooked and go unmet. With too much assertiveness, we become aggressive and lose the “positive and peaceful” aspect of our relationships. And passive-aggression is the worst of both worlds: needs go unmet AND we disturb the peace.
Every moment is a new opportunity to practice assertiveness, and every moment has its perfect balance of passivity, assertiveness and aggression. So how can we possibly get it right at the exact moment we need assertiveness to reign? Well, here are a few tips to help you!
1. There is no such thing as assertiveness without self-awareness. You have to know what you like, dislike, want, don’t want, need, don’t need, etc. in order to ask for it or stand up for it.
Get to know yourself by taking time to ask and answer questions like these:
a. If I were ruler of the world/owned the company/etc., my top priorities would be ______ because _______. Allow yourself to fantasize a perfect world. The details of your fantasy will tell you a lot about your character and motivations!
b. What are 3 things/events/behaviors that annoy you? This will help you figure out what triggers you. Triggers get us to act emotionally instead of thoughtfully.
c. How do your emotions impact others? (Positively and negatively)
d. What do you say to yourself? What is the nature of your self-talk? How often do you criticize yourself? How often do you encourage or compliment yourself?
2. Acknowledge your fears. What holds you back from being assertive? Are you afraid of making someone mad? Afraid of being disliked? Don’t want to be thought of as pushy or demanding? These are legitimate fears, and also have nothing to do with assertiveness. Being assertive is, by definition, not aggressive (pushy, demanding). Being assertive is not manipulative or mean or insensitive, so it is less likely to trigger reactions of anger or dislike in others. Nonetheless, your concerns are real and they are getting in your way. To get them out of your way, you’ll need the courage to face your fears and the determination to practice being genuinely assertive.
3. If you are still reading this, you are ready for the next step! Identify 3 situations that are good candidates for assertiveness practice.
a. Pick situations that will be relatively low-risk and easier to address. Many people find it easier to begin practicing assertiveness with strangers than with loved ones, bosses, or coworkers.
b. Make a commitment to yourself that you will calmly state your needs/wants in these 3 situations and you will stand firm in your request(s), even if you get scared or uncomfortable.
c. Now imagine yourself handling each situation with ease and assertiveness. What would you say? How would you feel saying it? What would the other person do or say? Envision success. If you find yourself getting pulled into doomsday scenarios, allow them to run to their conclusion. Then, ask yourself if the worst-case scenario is actually likely or even possible? If it seems too risky, pick an easier situation.
d. Practice! Put your commitment into action.
For more help with increasing your assertiveness, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org