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5 Ways To Be Assertive Without Being Pushy

5 Ways To Be Assertive Without Being Pushy

You’ve often heard that you should be more assertive in life. That you should stand up for yourself and express your opinion but take into consideration what the other person wants and needs too. That you should be nice but not let people use you.

Assertiveness also means being direct when communicating, but not to a point where you’ll make someone else feel upset. Doing this right doesn’t happen overnight, though. Because assertiveness is just one of the main communication styles, the one in the middle, and it’s easy to lead astray and either be passive, or aggressive in social life. Needless to say, that can make or break a relationship, cause you all the problems at work, lower your self-esteem due to never getting what you want and judging yourself for that afterward, lead to feeling angry and starting arguments, etc.

Getting better at being assertive can save you from all this. Now, we’ll focus more on how to get your point to be heard without being pushy and hurting others in some way. Assertive communication is the solution to better relationships, higher self-esteem, recognition, respect and balance in every area of your life that includes socializing. Fortunately, it’s a skill and, as any other can be learned with practice.

Here are some tips to follow that will make you confident without being aggressive:

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1. Notice signs of aggressive communication

Notice signs of aggressive communication, and choose a lighter approach. Learn more about the types of communication, especially the 2 aggressive ones. Here’s what you should keep in mind.

Aggressive individuals are all about domination. They violate the rights of other people and feed on their energy. In the end, they feel more powerful, as if they’ve won. But that’s just an illusion and soon they end up feeling emotionally exhausted from communicating this way.

For some time, this way of socializing works. You may think you’re getting what you want, but you end up having no meaningful relationships, being surrounded by people who fear you (be it at work or in personal life) and having let fear, hatred and other negative emotions blind your judgment.

But everything changes when you become aware of this, admit it to yourself that you’ve fallen into the trap of aggression, and decide to change. Then, you’ll be able to get familiar with all these bad behaviors you’ve developed and the harmful mental patterns that dictate your actions and to actually let go of all these.

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If you recognize a sign of aggressive communication the moment it’s about to show up, you can reject it and either do nothing or act assertively.

2. Watch your tone

When stating your opinion and thus making others take you seriously, for example, you might start sounding like you’re criticizing the other person, or that your opinion is more important than his. Your intonation can do that even if you don’t mean it.

So make sure your voice is clear but calm. Speak in a respectful manner.

3. Look for the best solution

Aggressive communicators are egoistic, they’re all about winning and doing what’s right for them. But that leaves the feelings and rights of the other person behind and he ends up hurt.

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With assertiveness, however, you’re looking for the most optimal solution to a problem. You’re clearly stating how you want things to be but also listen carefully to what others need and want.

Being assertive also means being fair and empathetic. Once you get there, you’ll solve problems effortlessly and everyone will be happy with the final decision.

4. Always think before you speak

When you’re about to have a serious conversation with someone where you’ll share your opinion, want to appear self-assured and to earn respect, take some time to think it through first.

The reason why you should do it is because it’s easy to start blaming, judging, interrupting, attacking or being rude. But if you practice the dialogue in your head first, you’ll notice where you’re changing direction and being pushier than you’d like.

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We are our own best critics, so if you’re going to finally stand up for yourself, let’s do it right and without leaving the other person with negative emotions.

5. Don’t fear anger, let it be

When working on improving their communication skills, many people think anger is this bad thing they should avoid at any cost. Unfortunately, they end up burying it deep within, until it’s too much to handle and they let it out at once.

So change your approach towards anger. First, allow it to happen. Know it’s a natural emotion and denying it won’t make it disappear. Then, understand it. That will help you internalize it and see what causes it. Once you’re in peace with your anger, you’ll be able to let it go and liberate you. That’s when you’ll freely express the opinion and communicate with others without feeling the need to yell, argue or blame in any way.

Conclusion:

When you’re ready to start becoming assertive, work on one of these aspects at a time, and begin small. Don’t be in a rush to get to the end goal. The point of every journey is to develop character and gain experience during it. So make sure you enjoy it too.

Meeting new people or talking to those in your surroundings but with a stronger mindset, will allow you to learn a thing or two from everyone. Soon your relationships will improve.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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