Throughout our lives we experience a series of crossroads. Some roads lead us to carry on the path we are currently on. Whilst other paths lead us to new pastures. No paths ever take us backwards, ensuring that we continuously move forwards with every new day that we are blessed with.
During these crossroads, we may realise that there are people or situations in our lives that we no longer resonate with. These could include our jobs, hobbies, friends or even family members. To walk away from these people/situations (if they are harmful to our growth and wellbeing) is a sign of authenticity in its maturity stage.
Assertiveness is when we confidently and positively express our opinions, ideas and talents. For example, Person A may ask; “Will you help me with this project tomorrow?” If you can and you want to, by all means say yes. Remember though, saying no is also an option. So many of us will say yes so as not to upset anybody. In truth, living our lives this way will ultimately wear us out!
When we hold the core belief that we are each equal to everyone else (not better or worse) but equal, we can then begin communicate from a
place of true equality.
Saying no to someone’s demands or walking away from situations we find uncomfortable is totally acceptable!
If we are made to feel as though we are wrong, or that we have upset or let others down, because our answer has not ‘fit in’ with others’ expectations, we have to re-evaluate. We must at this point, consider if we are being treated equally within the relationship.
We don’t have to be aggressive expressing who we are, but at same time we don’t have ‘tip toe’ around a person in case we upset them. If you speak your wants and needs clearly and assertively without aggressive tones, you have nothing to fear.
Below I will share with you 9 tips to help you in understanding what assertiveness looks like, and how you can implement an assertive energy into your life.
Tips on how to be assertive
1) Start a sentence with the word I in situations of debate.
For example, when trying to resolve an issue, aggressive language would be “you always do this!”
Assertive language would be “I feel disappointed when you change plans at the last minute” you can express your feelings without giving away your power, or trying to control someone else.
2) Maintaining eye contact.
Ok, we don’t want to have a full on freakish staring competition, but not having any eye contact shows discomfort and indecisiveness. Maintaining it shows you are present within the conversation. If you struggle with eye contact, you can practice on yourself in the mirror. This may feel awkward at first, but it is a great technique to build confidence. After all, our eyes are the windows to the soul.
3) Practice good body posture.
If you are able, standing tall rather than slouching will allow you to feel more assertive in yourself. Keep your shoulders back, and your head high. When you walk into a room, people will notice. This may feel unusual at first, especially if you’ve been used to slouching in order to ‘blend in’. Just know that the way you walk really will change how you feel within yourself.
4) Avoid being vague.
“You’re always criticising me” may be an easy thing to say in frustration, but being generalised and not specific actually can damage your ability to be assertive.
Instead you could say; “This is the third time this week you have critiqued my decision”. This is a more specific statement and therefore helps you to stand your ground. When we speak facts instead of random thoughts we can be more assertive and create boundaries with others.
5) Speak facts, not judgements.
Saying “he’s so bad at his job” is not an assertive way of describing a person that you have a professional issue with.
Saying “this is the second time he has misplaced important documents” however, is a fact not a judgement. When you are assertive there is no need to judge others. You can still vocalise issues that need to be talked about, in a non-judgemental way.
6) Silence is a great tool.
Filling in silences that you find awkward is something that so many of us have done, but remember, thinking through your words through before you speak is totally fine! If someone asks you “can you pick me up from the airport tomorrow” there are 3 ways you can answer.
Passive language “erm, I think I can, yes, ok that’s fine”
Aggressive language “Are you kidding me! How come I’m always the one doing you favours? Or “ok I’ll do it but you best be on time”
Assertive language (pause to think) you could say; “I’ll have to think about that” or ‘yes’ or ‘no’ depending on whether you can or cannot. It’s a simple answer to a simple question.
7) Be mindful of the tone of your voice.
Sometimes we may think we are being assertive but mumbling shows passive language and high pitched tones or raised voices show aggressiveness. Practice being assertive with a voice that is neutral, natural yet controlled.
8) Express your emotions clearly.
This tip is quite straight forward. If you communicate how you feel, crossed wires with others can be avoided.
9) You are responsible for yourself.
Your behavior and your personality is your responsibility. (Unless you have a medical condition which is out of your control, which alters this statement)
On the most part it is you that decides whether to let a person or situation control you, or whether you instigate arguments and drama. Staying assertive in situations won’t compromise the way you feel about yourself, and the way you treat others. Remember that boundaries are healthy, and you have every right to live with them in mind.
Written by Alyssa Cruise