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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.