Ten Ways to Become More Assertive

assertive-woman[1]What happens to you when someone says something you do not agree with? Do you keep quiet or do you speak up and argue with the person. Some people just hold their ideas to themselves and don’t share them. They end up feeling angry and resentful. Others argue and get angry, loud, and aggressive. It’s hard to be happy at work if you are angry, aggressive and/or resentful. If you are someone who goes along to get along and you get angry with yourself for doing that, or if you are someone who gets really belligerent and argumentative this list of tips to become more assertive but not aggressive will be helpful.

  1. Know what is important to you. What are your values? What are you willing to put up with and when are you willing to clearly take a stand. This means knowing yourself well so that in the moment you can decide if this issue is worth voicing your opinion even though it conflicts with others.
  2. Watch your language. State your thoughts using the pronoun “I”. Be sure not to criticize the other person(s). In your discussion steer clear of any statements beginning with”You”. It will sound accusatory and will anger the other person.
  3. Set Boundaries – Boundaries are rules and limits you set for yourself so that you will not allow yourself to be a pushover or aggressive. If you establish these before an incident and then commit to doing something when anyone crosses that boundary, you will know exactly what to do when it happens. For example you might decide to stand up to a person who makes negative comments about you when you are chatting in a group. If you decide to speak up remember #2.
  4. speakup2Speak up on a topic that is important to you. No one can read your mind. No one knows what you are thinking or feeling but you. Set your intention to speak up on something. Know what is important to you. The first time may be difficult but it gets easier once you find your voice and learn not to get too emotional.
  5. Accept that not everyone will agree with you. You are responsible for the ruffled feathers and unpleasant consequence that may result from your speaking up. Don’t apologize for your different opinion and don’t get angry with others for theirs.
  6. Accept that others may feel or behave badly. You are not responsible for their feelings or behavior. Stand your ground without being aggressive.
  7. Know the difference between assertive and aggressive – Simply stating your opinion or what you need is assertive. Becoming belligerent and argumentative is aggressive.
  8. NoSay “no” – Recognize the signals your body sends when you are asked to do something you do not want to do. Determine the risk involved in saying “no”. Notice how frequently you say “yes” and why. Having trouble saying “no”? A coach can help.
  9. Take up space – When you stand with your arms close to your body and your body slouched you give the appearance that says you are subordinate and closed. When you take up less space you appear less powerful. Stand tall with your feet 6-7 inches apart, keep your arms relaxed and by your side except to gesture and breathe deeply so you feel relaxed and self-assured.   You’ll feel and look more powerful when you take up more space.
  10. Practice – Becoming more assertive doesn’t happen overnight. You must practice this. Rehearse if you know you will need to be assertive in a discussion with your friends, team or boss. Set your intention to speak up assertively once or twice in a specific length of time. When you succeed celebrate the success.
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