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How To Become More Assertive Easily

How To Become More Assertive Easily

Whether you consider the workplace or the home, assertiveness is a skill that can boost self-esteem and earn the respect of those around us. It can also help us to set and maintain boundaries in respect of how we are treated by others, while there is even evidence that assertiveness helps with the process of stress management. This is especially applicable for those who take on too much responsibility and are unable to say “no,” as it equips them with the tools to communicate honestly with colleagues, partners, and bosses alike.

With this in mind, what simple and practical steps can you take to become more assertive in everyday life? Consider the following five ideas.

1. Challenge your Perception of Assertiveness

This is an important starting point for your journey, as studies have proven that we are exceptionally poor judges of our own assertiveness. As a general rule, we tend to view others as under-assertive and reflect on ourselves as being either overly aggressive or pushy. A study by SAGE confirmed this, revealing that 38% of respondents felt that they had been overly assertive in a particular situation despite the reassurance of their partners. This is known as the “line crossing illusion,” and it explains why so many of us struggle to be assertive even in circumstances where it is necessary.

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This understanding is crucial, as it creates greater awareness surrounding the concept of assertiveness and enables us to appraise individual situations and the actions of others in a more informed manner. As a result, our responses are likely to be well-measured and suitably assertive depending on the circumstances involved.

2. Develop Various Methods of Expressing Yourself and Your Opinion

Once you have begun to understand the nature of assertiveness and challenge your perceptions of it, you can explore non-confrontational methods of expressing your thoughts and your opinions. This is fortunately easier than ever in the modern age, given the popularity of blogging and the fact that online streaming sites such as YouTube receive in excess of one billion unique visitors each month. These mediums are not only easily accessible, but they also enable you to share your opinions with a vast audience without having to encounter direct confrontation.

In addition to this, you can also begin to express yourself through a handwritten journal or diary. This is an even simpler way of expressing and asserting yourself, while it offers a completely private and secure medium for one-way interaction.

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3. Begin to Assert Yourself in Conversation and Through Interaction with Others

Once you are more accustomed to expressing yourself and your unique opinions, the next step is to assert yourself in everyday conversation and through interaction with others. It is crucial that you start slowly, however, initially by setting yourself a series of low-risk challenges that enable you to practice being assertive on a daily basis. These can vary depending on your circumstances, but common examples include ordering your own food at dinner, praising colleagues in the workplace, or holding court and sharing real-life experiences with friends during a social occasion.

These exchanges are considered to be low-risk as they will solicit either a positive or a nondescript response, as this will gradually help you to develop your confidence and create an aura of authority. From here, you can begin to challenge yourself with higher risk activities, such as returning any faulty items that you have purchased or sharing negative feedback with a colleague. As you progress, keep a daily journal of your progress and highlight specific areas of communication that require improvement.

4. Speak Clearly at all Times

One of the main issues with being assertive is your ability to communicate directly with others, especially in challenging circumstances where negative feedback is being shared. This can cause us to speak in an accusatory manner in some instances, whereas in others we may find ourselves talking too quietly in a subconscious bid to avoid confrontation. Either way, there are some simple techniques that you can use to improve the words and the tone that you use when asserting your opinion.

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Firstly, consider using what is commonly referred to as “I” messaging. This simply involves sharing your opinions and thoughts from a first-person perspective, rather than highlighting what you believe others have done to contribute to the situation. This minimises the risk of offending others and lays the foundations for a more serene and productive conversation. As you continue to focus on your own feelings and opinions, you can simplify the communication process, avoid aggressive confrontation, and subsequently ensure that your tone stays neutral and at an audible level.

5. Practice, Rehearse, and Target Specific Behavioural Issues

By now, you should be at a point where you are demonstrating more assertive communication skills on a daily basis. You must also commit to this over a concerted period of time, as you practice and rehearse these communication skills with diligence, focus, and consistency. You should continue to practice in front of the mirror, as while this may seem a little excessive, it enables you to reinforce the importance of assertiveness and refine your communication skills further.

You may also want to work on specific areas for improvement, as these may be behavioural traits that are a little harder to change. Let’s say that you are prone to apologise excessively, even in instances where you are not at fault. If this applies to you, you will need to pay particular attention to this and focus on rehearsing relevant scenarios with friends and conditioning your responses.

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Featured photo credit: David Blackwell / Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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