Learning how to be more assertive in life and in work is a crucial step to real personal growth. Normally, if someone feels inclined to become more assertive, it means they have been treated as a doormat sometime in the past. They have probably suffered confidence and self-esteem issues, and have had trouble expressing what they really think to the people around them. Sometimes, however, learning how to be more assertive has nothing to do with any of these things. It is more a deep feeling – that you could be more, do more, and that currently your personal power is short-circuiting somewhere.
Finally figuring out how to speak your mind, stand up for yourself and express your desires is one of the most rewarding things you can do. It is in stark contrast to passive-aggressiveness, which is actually a fear-based attack on another person or group of people.
Learning how to be more assertive is training yourself to voice your opinions in the most positive and constructive way possible. If it training yourself to be clear on what you want, direct in your approach to get it, and honest when talking to others about it.
Why you aren’t as assertive as you could be
Your current level of assertiveness has a lot to do with your stress levels and deep-set belief systems. If we hold beliefs like “being polite just means going along with what anybody says” or “nobody cares about what I have to say anyway”, then we will almost always lack the personal power to be assertive. Low self-esteem and the fear of rejection can make people feel inadequate and, in turn, extremely difficult to put a stamp on anything meaningful.
The opposite is also true. The aggressive, hyper-masculine person can actually be hiding insecurities and a desire to be more assertive, which is causing them to act overly so. A very real block to learning how to be more assertive in a positive is the belief that assertiveness means being rude or insensitive to other people’s feelings.
Learning how to be more assertive
Assertiveness is a practice that can be mastered. It is a mental habit that we can cultivate through consistent repetition. Though there is no ‘roadmap’ as such, as everybody responds to different things, it is helpful to have a few steps on hand that can make the process easier.
1) Start with little things. When you are just beginning the process of learning how to be more assertive it is helpful to start small. As you gain success at speaking up in low risk situations your confidence will grow. Before long you will move on to bigger, more challenging moments, like speaking up to your boss about something or clearing up an issue with your spouse. Start small and stay the course and you will be rewarded.
2) Stop being guilty. If you have been a people-pleaser for most of your life, even standing up to someone in a small way can cause unnecessary guilt. Realise that you are doing nothing wrong by speaking your mind in a constructive way. Accept that you may ruffle a few feathers, especially if people are used to walking all over you. Guilt will not help you or them move forward.
3) Learn to express yourself. For many people, the idea of unhesitatingly expressing their needs and feelings is an alien one. The majority of us get so good at burying our wants as we get older that we forget they are there. Except we don’t. We just get used to the mild uneasiness that pervades everything that we do. Learn to tell people what you want and how you are feeling – it is crucial to your wellbeing.
4) Say no more often. Setting healthy limits on what you will and won’t do is crucial if you want to have constructive relationships. Too many of us feel that saying no to something is selfish and rude. Worse than that, we feel that if we say ‘no’ our social circle will reject us and people will think badly of us. The truth is hardly ever this severe and saying no has to happen if we are to have a sense of assertive wellbeing.
When we start learning how to be more assertive we feel ourselves coming alive. All of those knots in our stomach start to unravel and we feel a real sense of the power we hold within. Through this positive reinforcement we gather momentum, discovering just how easy it is to develop meaningful contact with other people, where we mutually share our ideas and issues in a collaborative space. Finally, we begin to sense what it means to be ‘authentic’. By letting our light shine in this way we also have no need to suppress the light in others. We have no desire to shoot down their views or opinions. On the contrary, we find all of this stimulus is like chocolate for the mind, with none of the side-effects. By becoming ourselves, we allow others to do the same.
Begin standing up for yourself and your views today and see how much faster things happen for you.
– Beast Hacker