Assertiveness has become a bit of a buzzword. We constantly hear about the benefits of being more assertive. Assertiveness enables us to take care of ourselves without being overbearing.
There is research being done on the delicate balance between being passive and aggressive. Ultimately the “assertive you” will boil down to knowing your self worth and practicing the behaviors of being more assertive.
There are many strategies for being more assertive. In this post I would like to share some of the small, specific things you can start doing today to be more assertive without turning into an aggressive butthole.
Start with “I” statements
Rather than being with a “You” when talking to someone, start with “I.” This shows that you are being accountable for yourself and sharing what you think and need.
Example: Instead of saying, “You keep interrupting me” you can change it to “I would like to finish what I was going to say without being interrupted”
Make your requests more intentional
Instead of asking people if they wanna do something (“you wanna go over that presentation?”), show your intention and make the request clear.
Example: “please review the presentation before the meeting”
Share the facts that you notice
When you see your colleague acting lazy or disengaged from work, it is a good idea to give feedback on what you notice. The impulse may be to say “hey, why are you being so lazy!”
Don’t give in. Keep things factual and share what you notice.
Example: “I noticed that you’ve come in half an hour late 3 times this week.”
Take a breath and assertively ask to think
Being assertive doesn’t always mean you have to have an immediate answer. There will be times where you need to process what is being said and it is okay to say, “let me think for a second.” This response shows that you acknowledged the request and gives you a few moments to gather your thoughts.
Politely say no without explanation
This is not a time for maybes. Be direct when you say no when you mean it. Make sure you body language is congruent with your words. Don’t feel like you need to give a reason if you don’t want to.
This doesn’t mean that you agree or disagree with it. It does show that you have listened to the other person and can take it into consideration before sharing your opinion.
Cut out hedge statements
Saying things like “this is only my opinion” or “I’m not sure if I’m right here” discredits your opinion. You can cut these out and just go straight to what you think. This will come off as being more confident in what you are saying.
Offer an alternative
There will be times when you want to help someone out, but not at that moment. Use this as an opportunity to be assertive and suggest something that works for you.
Example: “I’d love to help out, unfortunately that deadline won’t work for me. Is it flexible?”
Another example: “It sounds interesting. I’m not comfortable with ABC. Can we discuss other ways I might contribute?”
Study effective communication strategies
Communication is the heart of assertiveness. Making the study of communication a daily habit is good practice you can implement. You’ll learn many effective ways to express what you want and gain agreements.
Stand like superman
Amy Cuddy gave a powerful ted talk on how body language impacts how others see us and also how we feel within ourselves. Standing in confident postures can actually change how you feel. So the next time you are preparing to be assertive in a meeting, strike a pose first.