How to be more assertive without being aggressive?
Do you wish you were more assertive?
Do you reflect on situations and say to yourself, “If only I had stood up for myself?”
Becoming more assertive rather than aggressive or submissive is the number 1 way to get what you want and create a WIN-WIN situation.
Assertive people are much more likely to be successful in both their personal and professional lives.
This article will give you the following things:
- A definition of Assertiveness
- A clear understanding of the 3 different behaviour types and how to spot them
- The top 7 traits of an assertive person
- Give you the ‘No 1′ tool for dealing with aggressive people without joining their club, and
- Provide you with the ‘TOP 10″ affirmations to help keep you focussed on being more assertive
Tim is an executive coach and communication expert.
What is Assertiveness?
Assertiveness is a communication skill that respects the thoughts and wishes of others. People who are assertive clearly and respectfully communicate their wants, needs, positions, and boundaries to others. As a result there is no question of where they stand, no matter what the topic.
A key advantages of being more assertive is a reduction anxious thoughts, even when under stress. Assertive people are firm without being rude or aggresive. They react to positive and negative emotions without becoming aggressive or resorting to being overly passive.
Individuals who are assertive defend their points of view or wishes without becoming aggressive or unpleasant. They are also open to both compliments and constructive criticism. Assertiveness is often associated with higher self esteem and confidence.
The 3 different behaviour types.
There are 3 different behavioural styles that have been identified in the way people relate to each other. These are:
- Submissive (passive, and
Identifying each of these and what style you currently have is important.
The aggressive style
These people often speak in a very direct, demanding or dominating manner. They often use hostile remarks, sarcasm, demands and threats.
The consequence of this is that they often put others down to keep themselves on top.
How can you identify them?
Body language – often sit very upright, point their fingers when talking, often cross their arms and are generally unapproachable unless your support what they want to do.
Eye Contact – stare at others that may oppose them, tries to dominate by breaking eye contact last
Facial expression – Mocking smiles, scowls, raised eyebrows
Voice and speech – very confident, firm tone, may raise their voice when challenged, sometimes sarcastic, Their voice is often described as hard.
The submissive style
These people often appear eager to please and don’t want to upset anyone. They often apologise for what they say and seek permission for their thoughts or actions.
As a result they often fail to express their thoughts or opinions in a direct manner.
How can you identify them?
Body language – head downcast, body slumped, sometimes cover their mouth with their hand, sometimes fidget
Eye Contact – often avoid eye contact by looking sway or down.
Facial expression – sometimes purse their lips, smile slightly when being criticised, often a neutral expression
The assertive style
These people make statements that are clear, brief and to the point. They respect themselves and others and usually offer constructive suggestions with blame or judgement. Their tone of voice is often steady and firm and neither too soft or too loud.
How can you identify them?
Body language – Sits upright, have open body language and they use their hands for emphasis with our pointing or jabbing at other.
Eye Contact – they make eye contact with others without going into a staring competition. Eye contact is to create a connection, not a challenge.
Facial expression – Their facial expressions are open and transparent. They smile when happy and sometimes frown when angry or confused. Their expressions are a reflection their emotion, not a tool to get what they want.
Voice and speech – They use a confident tone with few hesitations and speak at an even pace. Their goal is to exchange information, not win a verbal battle.
The top 7 traits of an assertive person
- They stand up for themselves
- They are polite but firm
- They respect themselves AND other people
- They control their feelings and act rationally
- The see choices and shades of grey, not black and white ‘binary’ solutions
- They face up to situations
- They own their feelings and actions and communicate in terms of ‘I’
What do these things mean and how can you do them to?
Trait 1 – They stand up for themselves
- Being assertive does NOT mean being rude or belligerent, it does mean telling people when they are being disrespectful, aggressive or rude.
- Standing up for yourself means communicating with others.
- When someone talks over the top of you try saying,
“Excuse me, when you talk over the top of me I feel like you don’t care what I think. I would like to finish what I was saying please.”
- When your manager delegates extra work to you when you are already swamped try saying,
“To do this I won’t be able to do everything else I had planned for today. Can you help me decide what not to do today so I can prioritise this for you please.”
Trait 2 – They are polite but firm
- Being polite but firm means communicating what you think without being rude. An aggressive person will threaten and bully to get their own way.
As assertive person communicates what they think simply and logically. They don’t have too win or get their way.
They realise that there are a number of potential pathways to solve issues and accept that they are not always right.
- Being polite enables you to be direct and firm without being offensive. Don’t be judgemental. Focus on being realistic, specific and positive.
Trait 3 – They respect themselves AND other people
- Respecting yourself means that you know what your opinion is about an issue or challenge and you communicate this to others when appropriate.
- Respecting others means accepting that they may have a different point of view or perspective to you and this if OK.
- When you stop thinking in terms of ‘Right and Wrong’ or ‘Black and White’ and start thinking about creating a WIN | WIN outcome your are respecting yourself and others.
Trait 4 – They control their feelings and act rationally
- It is OK to have feelings and emotions about issues and situations, assertive people are aware of their feelings but don’t let them control their behaviour
- Acting rationally means, for example, accepting that your team has decided to approach a problem in a certain way and deciding to support what they are doing. Even if you would do it differently.
This sounds hard but as long as you have had the opportunity to speak and share your views, and have been listened to, it is remarkably easy.
- When you define WINNING as always getting your own way you are likely to resort to Passive or Aggressive behaviours, or both combined!
Trait 5 – The see choices and shades of grey, not black and white ‘binary’ solutions
- The world is often about grey areas. Accepting this is the first step to becoming more assertive because then you, A) don’t always need to be right, and B) don’t feel devalued when a person or group decides to do it a different way to you.
Trait 6 – They face up to situations
- Assertive individuals face into reality. They have their say, discuss their views, solutions or feelings. They listen to and respect these in other people and then they move forward without dwelling on the past.
- An assertive person raises issues that concern them with others before they become major problems.
- They also acknowledge when they have made a mistake or acted inappropriately.
Trait 7 – They own their feelings and actions and communicate in terms of ‘I’
- Assertive people talk in term of ‘I’, not ‘YOU’
- They use terms like… I think, I feel, I want
- They use cooperative words like… Let’s… how can we solve this?
- They are genuinely interested in the views or other, ‘I am really interested in what you think….?’
Assertiveness involves standing up for personal rights and expressing thoughts, feelings and beliefs directly and honestly, without trampling all over other people.
The ‘No 1′ tool for dealing with aggressive people without joining their club
The first step to becoming more assertive is to start to stand up for yourself. Try this tool and see if it works for you…
- When …
- I feel …
- Because …
- And what I …
If someone keeps talking over the top of you in conversation you need to tell them. It might look like this.
When you talk over the top of me I feel like you don’t care what I think, because I never get to finish what I am saying and what I want is to give my opinion without you interrupting me.
When you use this model to stand up to aggressive people the changes can be dramatic and immediate. Remember that the best way to deal with a bully is to stand up to them.
This way you can do this without becoming aggressive yourself.
The TOP 10 affirmative affirmations
- I will act in ways that promote my dignity and self respect
- I will act as thought people respect me
- I will say no and not feel guilty
- I will experience and express my feelings
- I will take time to slow down and think
- I will often change my mind.
- I will ask for what I want
- I will ask for information
- I will make mistakes
- I will feel good about myself
Using affirmation and repeating them daily is a proven way to change behaviour and mindset.
Being assertive can be a learnt skill but it takes focus and practice if it does not come naturally.
How do you focus on being assertive?
Which of these ideas are you going to use first to make sure you stand up for yourself without being disrespectful to others?
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin