Assertiveness is a skill which demonstrates healthy confidence. Voicing your opinions requires clear communication and recognising the rights of the other person. It is not simply getting what you want at an expense of others. Assertive people directly express their wants, preferences and needs in a considerate manner without being rude. They set clear boundaries of what they are ready to accept so there is no question on where they stand regardless of the topic. Assertive people know how to accept compliments and constructive criticism and don’t restore to passive or aggressive communication.
Benefits of assertiveness
When we say No without worrying about upsetting people it means we are less preoccupied with what others think about us and our life choices. Saying Yes in order to please people makes us feel resentful as our needs are put aside. It doesn’t mean being selfish, it means catering to our needs first so we can happily give to others. When we give because we want to, not because we feel we have to, our life satisfaction and happiness increases and everyone wins. It makes us feel empowered. That in turn increases confidence in ourselves and our choices.
- Increased confidence and feeling of empowerment
- Improved relationships and feeling less resentful
- Reduced anxious thoughts even when under stress
Assertiveness requires practice and consistency. Being persistent over time will get you where you want.
How to be assertive:
To be assertive is to ‘put people in the picture’.
- Speak up
Whenever something bothers you or you want to express a desire or a need, you have to let other people know about it in a considerate way. They cannot read your mind. Being direct instead of hinting improves the quality and health of our relationships.
- Set boundaries
Be clear about your limits and rules. People will more likely respect you more for being assertive as they will know clearly where they stand with you.
- Know that people have the right to say No
Your request can always be declined, and then it’s up to you to decide the course of action. If it concerns your values and boundaries, think whether this is the kind of person you want to be around. If it is of a lesser importance see if you can reach a compromise.
- Use ‘I’ statements without putting blame on others
Whenever people feel they are being blamed, the response is defensiveness. ‘I’ statements indicate you take responsibility for your feelings while describing an issue. For example, say “I feel worried when you come home late” instead of “You are so inconsiderate, you can’t keep coming home late!”
- You are only responsible for how you feel and behave
People might get disappointed sometimes even angry when they hear No or disagree with you. As long as you express yourself in a considerate way, there is no reason why you shouldn’t let others take responsibility for their feelings. When we realise feelings and behaviours of others are not our responsibility, our anxiety and stress levels decrease.
Remember you always have the power to make a change in your life if something bothers you, or you are not happy with something. Start taking action with low-risk situations and see how that impacts your happiness and confidence.
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