ENTERTAINMENT  :   Lifestyle

Tips on how to be assertive

Sunday , 01 February 2015

Knowing your mind and speaking up doesn’t come easily to all. If you find this difficult, read on for some simple tips

Have your friends often told you that you need to be a little more assertive and voice your opinions? Well, like you, there are many individuals who shy away from voicing what they want or deserve. Being assertive, is a stage between passive and aggressive. Passive individuals tend to nod at everything someone says, be it among friends, at work, or within his or her family. Whereas, aggressive people come across as bullies, who want to see everything getting done their way. An assertive person is someone, who softly, but firmly voices opinions, or demands without seeming arrogant. If one of your New Year resolutions is to be more assertive, we help you take the correct steps in this direction.

1 Rehearse how to be assertive

You can do this by standing in front of the mirror and saying out things which you’ve been wanting to say, but were unable to do so earlier. You can also take help of a friend who will boost your confidence and won’t laugh at your fledgling attempts. Next, go to a restaurant and try being assertive, when the waiter comes to you to take down your order. Don’t say “you tell me what is best”. Instead, know your mind and place your order specifically. If you are unsure what the preparation in that particular restaurant is like, ask the waiter to describe it to you. If you are satisfied with the description, place the order. If not, take a look at the menu once again and order something else that you like.

2 Observe others

Observe others. You are sure to have a role model. Whom do you admire for knowing their minds and speaking up? Observe that person. He or she could be a friend, your boss, or your sibling. Watch their body language, the way they form sentences, the way they speak, when they want something to be done. Try to emulate their actions in private and then apply it where it counts.

3 Control your body language

Control your body language. Now that you have observed how others assert their thoughts, practice the rules. Do not fidget with your hands while talking to someone. If you can’t control their movement, put them in the pockets of your coat or pants. Always try to maintain eye-to-eye contact. This will ensure that the person you are talking to pays attention to what you are saying. If you are suddenly overcome with shyness, don’t look down. Look far away, as if you are thinking about something.

4 Express what you think

Keep in mind that the other person won’t understand what you want, or feel, unless and until you say it out loud. Many of us don’t like to face conflicts and so, just go along with the flow. While, no one likes to create conflicts, not expressing yourself is just a convenient excuse to not express yourself.

5 Learn to say no

This is probably the toughest task, as you try to become assertive. If you are a people-pleaser, you are most likely to feel bouts of anxiety. Breathe deeply and let go of your anxiety. At work, say no if you really can’t do the job, or are burdened with too much workload already. Tell the person, who has asked you to do a certain thing, that the quality of work will suffer, since you already have too much to do. Do not give over-long explanations and do not over-apologise.

Even at home, or within your group of friends, say no to an idea, if you truly don’t agree with it. People respect those, who say no more than those, who just nod their heads in agreement in every situation.

6 Throw away the guilt

Don’t feel guilty because you just said no. Let go of the guilt, as you can’t please everyone without going against your wishes and feelings. Sometimes, it’s necessary to let another person know that he or she is doing something wrong, or is putting too much pressure on you. Tell your wife that you are too tired to go out, or tell your neighbour to reduce the volume of the music blaring from his house, without feeling guilty for doing so.

7 Think positive

Most passive individuals don’t speak up, because they think no one gives any value to what they have to say or suggest. Do away with such negative thinking. Nurture a positive attitude, where you speak up your mind, without any fear of rejection. Positive thought will give you confidence and the courage to speak up your mind.

8 Articulate your thoughts

One of the smartest ways to avoid goof ups, is to practice what you want to speak. It may sound silly, but rehearsing can give you an added confidence. Think the words through and then speak out slowly, but confidently. However, don’t speak so slowly that the other person gets distracted or gets offended. If at any point you think, you have started to ramble, stop talking. Collect your thoughts and begin the conversation all over again.

9 Establish boundaries

These boundaries are not just for others, but for yourself too. Understand when you have to say no, for example, taking work home or working extra hours every day. Even at home, tell your kids you can’t do this or that immediately, just because they want you to. Set boundaries and then stick to them. If out of guilt you want to do something which you had earlier refused, remind yourself of your boundaries and step back.

10 Work on your appearance

By this, we don’t mean dress up, but just pay attention to what you wear. Clothes cut in clean lines, matched properly with minimal accessories, will get you the desired attention. People always listen to someone who looks like they know what they say and want, and power dressing is part of the ‘being assertive’ game. Even if you like to sport a casual look, pull on things that don’t look out of place. Dress up according to the occasion and the situation; it’ll help you prove your point.