All relationships in life require communication. They also require a mutual give-and-take for them to be healthy. However, many people aren’t good at communication and end up being either passive or aggressive. Being assertive is when a person effectively explains his/her point of view while also respecting the other person in the conversation. It causes you and the other person to walk away from a conversation feeling satisfied.
Being assertive is not being aggressive. Aggressive behavior includes: hostility, blaming, threats, sarcasm, and even physical violence. Being assertive is also not being passive. It is easy to be passive when communicating with others because of the fear of not being liked or seen as mean. However, this can lead the passive person feeling anxious, depressed, and frustrated with themselves and the other person.
Ways to be assertive:
- Know what you want from the situation: Going into a situation knowing what you want can keep you from acting out of your old habits.
- Practice what you want to say: Like anything, the more you practice the easier it’ll be to do.
- Pay attention to your body language: Keep an upright posture and maintain eye contact. Avoid dramatic, aggressive gestures.
- Stay calm: It’s easier said than done, but do your best to keep your emotions in check.
- Start small: Before asking for a raise at work, try out your new skills on friends and family regarding relatively minor issues.
- Be patient: It will take time to change your habits. Being patient is especially important if you were once a passive person. People will be surprised by the change, but they will soon come to respect your new way of communicating.
Being assertive may sound simple but once emotions come into conversations, situations become complicated and being assertive can become more difficult. So assertiveness is a skill that takes time to learn, but it’s well worth the effort. Being assertive will make you more confident, decisive, happy and you’ll gain more respect from others in the process!