Develop your assertiveness

What is assertiveness?

Assertiveness is about being able to express yourself with confidence without having to resort to passive, aggressive or manipulative behaviour.

Assertiveness is about communicating effectively and not only when it comes to knowing what to say. Tone of voice, intonation, volume, facial expression, gesture and body language all play a part in the message you give to the other person.

Prepare to assert yourself

When preparing to be assertive, it's important to control your tension level. Here are a few coping strategies:

  • Practise deep-breathing exercises
  • Learn about the power of meditation
  • Make sure you know all the facts before you go into a situation where you need to be assertive

The techniques you use to control your stress level can be practised at any time and anywhere. Don't forget that it's equally important to unwind after coping with a stressful situation.

Positive thinking

Assertive people have a positive self-image:

  • They use positive language
  • They look for positive outcomes to interactions
  • They work with the other person to provide positive solutions to problems so that a "win-win" solution can be found.

Clear, concise, constructive vocabulary is an all-important aspect of assertiveness. It is essential to phrase things in a positive rather than negative way. It will help you to achieve your objective, and make the other person feel less threathened and more responsive.

Negative self-talk leads to self-doubt and low self-esteem. Have you ever found yourself saying in front of the mirror things like:

  • I'll never get this job, I am not as good as others in the job market
  • I can't cope with the situation
  • I will never get that work finished on time

This kind of thinking makes you unhappy and drains your energy and power. Your level of assertiveness depends largely on your state of mind - your self-esteem and confidence. It's important to recognise this negative internal chattering and to replace it with positive self-talk.

So what can you do to bring about this change?

As soon as you recognise negativity in your inner dialogue replace it with a positive, energising, self-elevating talk. Repeat a self-affirmation message out loud several times. It can be messages such as:

  • Every day I am getting better at my job
  • I will succeed at my next job interview
  • There is nothing to fear

A win-win solution is not always possible but should always be looked at in the first instance:

  • Think positive; this is a problem solving exercise and not a personal conflict
  • Think of the other person as a partner in problem solving, not an opponent
  • Find out exactly what the other person needs; what they want to gain from the situation, how strong their feelings are, what are the hidden messages and so on
  • Compare their views with your current needs, feelings and expectations
  • Establish where there are similarities, differences and look at the options, discuss and evaluate
  • Co-operate: work together towards a win-win solution
  • Always recognise the other person's basic rights while not neglecting your own