Do you ever feel like you allow yourself to be walked on?
Have you ever been turned down for a raise that you knew you deserved? Have you ever found yourself buying a product or listening to a caller even though you really didn’t want to? Being assertive is essential in today’s fast-paced world where it seems like everyone places a demand on your time and attention. Being able to say no is an important quality that too few seems to possess.
The word “assertive” is defined as being “inclined to bold and confident assertion,” and “aggressively self-assured.” Being able to get what you want out of life takes assertiveness. If you feel like you are not as assertive as you should be, take a look at these five simple suggestions. They are a good place to start on your road to getting the treatment you want.
1) “Act as if.” This is a principle incorporated into many professions and philosophies. It is basically the practice of acting as if you are assertive, even if you aren’t. Acting as if you are successful even if you aren’t. Acting as if you are happy and centered, even if you aren’t. Image and presentation is at least half of the battle in getting what you want.
If you don’t feel you are worth the raise that you know you deserve, chances are you will exhibit that feeling, however subconsciously, to your supervisor. If you are able to act as if you are worth it, even if you feel deep down inside a lack of confidence, your chances will be measurably improved. It may sound implausible but put it to the test. Act as if you are an assertive person who is able to express and achieve your desires every day. You will quickly see the results.
2) Practice on small things. If you feel unable to tackle the bigger issues in which you would like to feel more assertive, it is helpful to start small. Rather than marching into your boss’ office right away, asking to be put on that new, exciting project, try letting the waiter know, calmly and without guilt, when your dinner order is not right.
Or be honest with the other carpool driver and let her know you will not be able to trade days with her. When you find yourself having success in small things, you will feel more confident in being assertive in bigger and more important things.
3) Don’t apologize for your opinions or desires. One of the biggest things that keeps people from being assertive is guilt. We tend to feel guilty when we ask for things that we need or want. We tend to feel guilty saying no to things we cannot or don’t want to do.
Eradicating guilt starts with a refusal to apologize for believing or feeling a certain way. Own your feelings and let them be what they are. While it’s sometimes frightening to express them to people who feel otherwise, your feelings are just as valid as those of everyone else.
4) Review and reflect daily. As you learn to be more assertive in your life, make sure to take some time at the end of each day to reflect on those situations throughout the day that called for assertiveness. Make a mental note of how you handled the situation, and if you didn’t act as you would have liked to, think of what you could do differently next time.
Evaluating each situation and making a plan for next time helps you be aware of what is causing you to shrink back or take a bold step forward. It also prepares you for future situations, and you will be more likely to achieve success and be assertive if you have planned beforehand what you would say in a similar situation.
5) Cut yourself some slack. Throughout your journey down this road, you will undoubtedly experience some ups and downs. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and remember that achieving any personality trait takes time, practice and vigilance.
You truly can achieve assertiveness if you desire it. Acknowledge success and analyze failures to see where you can change. Be kind to yourself and watch your progress as you get ever and ever closer to the person you want to be.