9 easy tips to become more assertive
Being assertive simply means to be direct about your needs, wants, feelings and beliefs and limits in such a manner that you are respecting the points of view, feelings and wishes of others. Assertiveness is a social skill that can help you increase your self-esteem, improve relationships and reduce conflict.
Why does it matter?
People who are assertive are less likely to experience anxious thoughts even when facing pressure and stress. They react to both positive and negative emotions without becoming aggressive or passive. They are also more open to receiving compliments and constructive criticism. Assertive people are less prone to become depressive and usually manage to engage in more meaningful, satisfying relationships.
Being more assertive is something that comes with time and experience. If you wish to work on your assertiveness, you should better keep an eye on the following:
1. Be open and honest
Some people think that being assertive means to shout and to enforce your point of view rudely. This is totally incorrect. The main goal is to stand up for yourself, for your wants and beliefs in a respectful manner. So, each time you want to be direct and persuasive, respect the feelings and ideas of those around you.
2. Be an active listener
Your idea might be important for you, but you owe respect and understanding towards what others might have to say about it. Try to understand the other person’s point of view and do not interrupt them when they are explaining it to you.
3. Agree to disagree
Whatever you might do, sometimes you and your conversation partner will never agree in some aspects. It’s normal and it doesn’t mean one of you is right, while the other one is wrong. Don’t get upset, don’t blame the other one for not sharing your point of view.
4. Stay calm
When you want to present your ideas or opinions, even though you know some might not be very receptive about what you want to say, remember to breathe normally, keep your face relaxed and speak using a normal tone of voice. If you are not doing this, you will show pressure, insecurity and stress, involuntarily creating a weakness within your communication.
5. Be patient
Assertiveness is a skill that needs practice. You can simulate an important conversation you would like to have with your significant other or your boss in front of the mirror. Pay attention to the expressions of your face, follow your body language. How do you feel about yourself?
6. Take responsibility
Accepting responsibility is a critical part of an assertive behavior. No one will ever have the right to tell you how to feel, think, like. That is why, when you have your mind set on a choice, you need to accept that is your individual decision. By taking responsibility for your thoughts and feelings, you will find the calmness you need to listen to another person’s point of view. This means you won’t put them on the defensive, creating the premises of a meaningful conversation.
7. Rely on the power of "I"
If you have already accepted your decision, don’t be shy to express it! Don’t try to present your point of view as a certainty, leaving your interlocutor feeling irrelevant for the conversation. Use language such as “In my opinion…”, “As I see it…”, “My thoughts are…”. This way, you will show you are open minded, interested in feedback, responsible and respectful.
8. Be warm and welcoming
The tone of voice is very important when communicating. Sometimes, it is far more important than the actual words. When you use warmth in your tone of voice, you automatically tell others that you welcome their views and are happy to talk to them. You will be able to demonstrate you are open, friendly, trustworthy and overall a pleasant person.
9. Maintain eye contact
Looking into the other person’s eyes while you talk signals attentiveness, confidence and trustworthiness. Don’t stare and don’t excessively try to look away. It has been shown that people don’t trust those who don’t make eye contact, thinking they are most likely to lie, to hide something or to be ashamed of something they have said or done.