How are you doing on noticing when you should be more assertive? Have you realized what the cause of your communication style is? Are you trying to change that a little bit at a time? Have you spent time evaluating what you want in life and why you have gotten it or haven’t gotten it? Over the next two weeks we will talk about ways to become more assertive.
Being aware of the barriers to assertiveness is the first step. Enhancing your level of assertiveness is the next step. There are many components to assertive behavior. A few of these components might surprise you.
Take your time and progress slowly. Keeping your stress levels under control makes progress much easier.
Your communication with those around you goes beyond your words. A lot of it is non-verbal. Optimizing your posture, body movements, and tone of voice will show the world that you’re relevant and deserve respect.
Try these positive body language strategies:
1. Maintain good eye contact. People that are passive tend to look up, down, and all around. But they rarely look the other person directly in the eye. Aggressive people can have too much eye contact. It’s not a staring contest.
• Displaying an effective amount of eye contact will take some practice. If you know someone that communicates especially well, notice how much eye contact they maintain when speaking.
• Aim for 50% of the time while speaking and 75% while listening. Every situation is different.
2. Stand and sit tall. If you want to be assertive, it’s important to stand and sit up straight. Those that are passive try to appear smaller than they really are. Be honest with your size and presence.
3. Uncross your arms and legs. You’re assertive so you have nothing to hide. Stand or sit relaxed with your limbs uncrossed. Otherwise, you’ll look closed off and unapproachable.
We draw a lot of conclusions from the non-verbal behavior we witness in others. If you find that people tend to ignore you, your non-verbal communication could use a little work. Avoid discounting the importance of this topic. There are many books devoted to the topic. Consider obtaining one.
Give Your Opinion
Giving an opinion isn’t easy for everyone. Let others know what you think and you’ll open yourself up to judgment and criticism. However, giving opinions is a great way to start growing assertive, more effective communication skills. Start sharing your opinion today.
Make a rule that you’ll always give your opinion when asked. From now on, if you’re asked:
• “What do you want for dinner?”
• “What restaurant do you want to go to?”
• “What should we do about little Johnny’s grades?”
• “Where should we take a vacation?”
Give your opinion! Having an opinion means your present in the moment and in the conversation. No more saying, “I don’t know. It’s up to you.”
Use these techniques to start giving your opinion freely:
1. Practice. It’s hard to become good at anything without practice. Speak up whenever you get a chance.
2. Avoid apologizing for an opinion. When you’ve crossed a line, apologizing is appropriate. But you have the right to an opinion. There’s no reason to start an opinion with, “I’m sorry for saying this, but…….” If your significant other is looking at clothes to buy, it’s okay to tell him that you don’t care for it.
3. Start giving your opinion whenever asked. They asked for it, so let them have it. Be polite, but tell the world what you think.
Giving an opinion is an important part of communication. You’ll find most conversations fall apart quickly if no one is willing to share an opinion. Enhanced non-verbal communication and giving your opinion is a great start.
Ask for what you want. Be reasonable and completely honest. The people that matter will likely do whatever they can to accommodate you. Those that don’t try to accommodate you don’t matter anyway. The key point is to ask without being controlling.
How to make effective requests:
1. Decide what you want. If you didn’t have to worry about anyone’s feelings, what would you ask for?
2. Decide if your request is reasonable. Avoid underestimating or overestimating your rights.
3. Avoid apologizing in your request. As soon as you say, “I’m sorry for asking, but…” you’re telling yourself that you think you’re overstepping your bounds. You’re broadcasting the same message to the object of your request.
4. Ensure that it’s a request and not a demand. There’s a difference between, “Would you please fill up the car with gas?” and “Fill up the car before you come home.”
If you let others know what you need from them, you’re much more likely to receive it. Plenty of people want to make you happy, so let them.
Learn to Say “No”
Most of us were brought up to be helpful and to avoid refusing requests. But there’s only so much time in the day, and we all have a limited amount of energy. If you’re accustomed to being passive, saying “no” can be a real challenge!
If you can’t say “no,” you’re a slave to those around you. Using that little word at the appropriate time puts you in charge of your life.
1. Believe you have the right to say no. It’s not selfish to manage your own time, life, and needs. Everyone has the right to say no, including you. Take care of yourself and you’ll be in a better position to care for others.
2. Believe that you’ll still be loved and accepted if you say no. You might be under the faulty assumption that the only reason anyone keeps you around is to do the undesirable tasks. You’ll find that the important people in your life will still be around. They’ll even respect you more.
3. Believe that they’ll accept being told no. Some of us have created a situation where others won’t take our refusals seriously. You have to show them that no means no. It takes time.
Practice saying no in the places you receive the greatest number of unreasonable requests. Is it at work or at home? Who makes the greatest number of requests? Mentally rehearse giving refusals in your spare time.
How to refuse an unreasonable request:
1. Be aware of your non-verbal behavior. Stand tall and maintain proper eye contact. Be calm and say “no.” If your non-verbal behavior doesn’t match your words, the other person might doubt your seriousness.
2. Take your time. Consider how you really feel about the request. Avoid jumping to any response. If you need time to think, say so.
3. Avoid apologizing if it isn’t necessary. It’s not necessary to create a debt that you’ll have to pay back at a later date. When you apologize before saying no, the other person will conclude that you have to make it up to them.
4. Assume acceptance of your refusal. Situations vary, but avoid explaining yourself unnecessarily. Simply give your response and move on.
5. Accept the result. Just because you have the right to say no doesn’t mean others don’t have the right to get upset. You can refuse a request, and the other person can respond negatively.
Learning to say no is perhaps the most effective way a passive person can enhance his life. It creates boundaries and teaches others to respect your time and wishes.
Let me know in the comments what you think will be the hardest part for you? Setting boundaries is never easy but the more you do it for yourself the better at it you will become.
Blessings & Love,