Sometimes we are faced with situations where we should speak up for ourselves but we don’t, for some reason or another often out of discomfort we fail to speak our own truth and because of this we feel dissatisfied with the results and less authentic. Worse case scenario we will inevitably avoid situations that require us to be assertive and find ourselves adjusting our lives accordingly. In a competitive world it takes courage to speak your truth and let’s face it sometimes it is just difficult to muster up courage in the heat of a moment. Those who are assertive are seen as confident, knowledgeable and fun to be around so it is no wonder these type of people seem to do better professionally and socially.Assertiveness is not aggressiveness, not puffing up your chest and showing your teeth, it is about communicating your ideas effectively in any given situation despite the discomfort you might face. You can begin developing your assertiveness by knowing why you are asserting yourself; perhaps it is one of the following:
• There is a decision to be made
• Someone else’s actions need correcting
• You have been wronged
• You have a solution to a problem
• You need to stand up to yourself and others
Make sure if you can, when you assert yourself you are right, there is nothing worse than someone asserting them self with no logical or reasonable foundation for their idea. Ask yourself ‘what is the problem and how do I fix it’ keep going until you get to the bottom line and research your idea to back up your claim with evidence. This is helpful when talking to parents, bosses, significant other or customers.
Here are some interventions for assertiveness:
• Say something that shows your understanding of the other person’s feelings. So it doesn’t look like your trying to pick a fight, for example ‘I know you get angry when people do this but I was just….’
• State what you want, for example a specific request in a change of the other person’s behaviour.
• Use assertive body language, face the other person, sit or stand straight, don’t use dismissive gestures, use pleasant facial recognition and keep your voice calm.
• Use facts not judgments.
• Express ownership of your thoughts, feelings etc, when you do this I feel……
• Keep repeating yourself in a calm voice, don’t get pulled into argument, say the same thing over and over or frame it differently and use kindness if can.
• Summarise your understanding of the other person even if you don’t agree, sometimes reflection helps them gain clarity.
• Have a genuine desire for a win/win outcome and you will increase your chances of asserting yourself effectively
Try these new approaches for communication and you will find it gets easier with practice, journal your results and seek to improve your performance each day. Role playing this with a coach is helpful and sometimes you can use a friend to try it out on also before you face the situation that requires you to be assertive.
Breathe deep, stay calm and be confident!