Inc defines assertiveness as an interpersonal skill where you can demonstrate healthy confidence to stand up for yourself without disregarding the rights of others. Assertive people are direct and honest. They do not expect other people to know what they want and they have the ability to ask for what they need calmly and with confidence. Being assertive allows you to not only create honest relationships through being transparent but also to improve your decision-making skills. It’s not always easy to be assertive, especially if it’s not something you’re used to, but with some practice, it is possible. Here are some of the simplest ways to be assertive without being aggressive:
Learn to say no
Easier said than done for most people, but turning down requests allows you to lay down boundaries and show other people that you also value your own choices and you’re not afraid to voice them out. Mayo Clinic’s advice on being direct outlines how you shouldn’t hesitate and if you need to explain, keep it short and simple. Use “I” statements more than “you” so you can disagree without sounding accusatory.
Get to know yourself better
Business Insider reveals that your personality type has a lot to do with your job preference, and even how you resolve conflict or find satisfaction in your work. Are you an extrovert, a thinker, or a feeler? In the legal industry, there are even specific “types” of lawyers, from the people person or the “Rainmaker” to the ethical one known as the “Advocate”. A post by Special Counsel on personality types explains how assertiveness in the legal profession can be seen in The Rainmaker personality type. These are the attorneys who are not only goal-oriented but also have resilient egos—extroverts who thrive on social interaction. In any industry, it’s a huge advantage if you know the best and worst traits of your personality type.
Stay calm and mindful
It’s hard not to feel excited when you have an idea or you’re passionately defending something. However, passion and excitement can easily be misinterpreted as aggression, especially if you fail to acknowledge what others have to say. Be cool and calm when explaining yourself as it’ll make you feel more confident and it will allow other people to relax. Be mindful of your body language as well. Look at people when they’re talking, speak in a normal voice, and listen actively to whoever is talking.
Don’t invalidate how other people feel
There’s a thin line between being assertive and being imposing. The Muse points out that assertive people know how to incorporate their own ideas without shutting down other people’s valid points, concerns, and feelings. How you phrase it matters a lot. Take the marketing industry, for example. Creating a good ad means pooling people in one room to brainstorm different options. Presenting your idea as a question or a possibility will sound better than directly stating what you think without acknowledging what others have said.
Be open to collaboration
Being assertive also means being collaborative. When it comes to resolving a conflict or finding ways to reach a particular goal, practice being nurturing more than being competitive. Assertive-collaborative people show genuine concern for other people’s needs, objectives, and wellbeing. You need to learn to strike the balance between standing your ground and welcoming feedback and suggestions.
If you think you may need help when it comes to being assertive, there are assertiveness intensive courses like the ones offered by Core Alignment Coaching. These workshops will allow you to practice expressing what you want without your emotions getting out of hand. The workshops are also designed to allow you to feel more optimistic and forgiving about yourself. Being assertive helps you accomplish more at work because you communicate your plans and you’re open to discussions about how to achieve them. The key is to remember that assertiveness is a combination of honesty and respect—be honest about your intentions without going beyond other people’s boundaries.