Everyone wants to be more confident, but not everyone knows how to be assertive. Assertive falls right between passive and aggressive. If you’re passive about voicing your opinion, you may come across as submissive. And if you are aggressive with your viewpoint, you may come across as a hostile or, even worse, a bully.
But if you learn to be assertive, you can express yourself without being passive or aggressive, and you will have a better chance of getting what you want.
Here are seven simple ways to help yourself become more assertive.
1. Understand assertiveness.
Assertiveness is an interpersonal skill in which you demonstrate the healthy confidence to stand up for yourself while still respecting the rights of others. When you are assertive, you are neither passive nor aggressive, but direct and honest. You don’t expect other people to know what you want, so you speak up to ask for what you need calmly and with confidence.
2. Keep your communication style in line.
When it comes to being assertive, communication style is critical, and the key is to be respectful of those with whom you are trying to communicate. Pay attention to your body language as well as the words you say, and make sure you’re congruent in your words, body language, and tone. Never expect people to read your mind; if you want something, say so, and if something bothers you, speak up. Look confident when making a request or stating a preference. Stand up straight, lean in a bit, smile or keep a neutral facial expression, and look the person in the eye.
3. Understand and accept differences.
Assertiveness doesn’t mean being dismissive of other people’s points of view. Just as you state your own opinion, you work to understand other points of view. Don’t allow differences to upset you or make you angry; remember that differences don’t necessarily mean you are right and the other person is wrong. Try to understand their point of view. Listen respectfully and don’t interrupt when they are speaking.
4. Speak simply and directly.
When you’re practicing assertiveness, it’s important to speak in a way that doesn’t imply accusations or make the other person feel guilty. Speaking your truth with candor shouldn’t mean making others feel wrong. Be simple, direct, and concise, and state what you know to be true for you. When asserting yourself, remember, less is more. Keep your requests free of meandering or long-winded explanations.
5. Exercise the power of “I.”
To be assertive without coming across as hostile, use “I” statements. Make it a habit to say things like “I think … “ or “I feel …. “ Never use aggressive language or phrases like “You never… “ or “You always…. “ These statements trigger other people, leaving them frustrated, and they shut down conversation. “I” statements allow you to be confident and assertive without alienating and eliminating other people.
6. Stay calm.
Being assertive might make you feel excited, but excitement can sometimes come across as aggression. Learn to stay cool and calm when expressing yourself; it will make you more confident and allow the other person to relax. Remember to breathe normally and be mindful of body language and eye contact. Be present with each other. Calm mind, calm speech, calm action — it not only gives you confidence, but allows the other person to remain composed as well.
7. Set boundaries.
Boundaries are the rules and limits you create for yourself that help you decide what you will and won’t allow. You don’t want people to walk all over you, but you don’t want people to think you are a bully, either. Setting boundaries will empower you to know when you need to say yes and when you want to say no.
Assertiveness is like any other skill — it takes practice and time to get it right. Keep working through each of these techniques and soon you will feel more confident.
Originally published on Inc.com
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