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Has anyone ever told you that you are a pushover, too nice, too agreeable or that you don’t have any original thoughts or ideas?

Or do you know that you tend to have these tendencies?

Do more times than not you ignore that gut feeling, knot in your stomach feeling and say yes when you really want to say no?

Or do you ignore your instincts to stand up for yourself hoping that the next time will be different?

Sometimes over analyzing what someone said in your head trying to make it sound better, “They couldn’t have meant that could they”?

 

Well if you have any of these problems you may have issues asserting yourself.

I used to always associate being assertive with being a jerk and being aggressive.

Sometimes it seemed like the people who shouted the loudest had the most respect and for those of us who prefer not to communicate that way we may start to feel helpless, like we don’t have a voice.

 

But first…What makes us afraid to communicate and be assertive?

I’ve been called and have felt that I was a pushover at times and if I had to really think about it, being assertive just always felt like too much of a hassle.

I had this scenario in my head of how being assertive would play out and it usually ended with me feeling incompetent to stand up for myself and the other person upset.

I wanted to avoid confrontation at all costs.

I didn’t want to make anyone angry.

I didn’t want people thinking I was mean.

I didn’t know how people would react.

And most of all I wanted to feel like I could stand up for myself without being a butt and I wanted people to take me seriously.

And what is assertiveness? : My simple definition. Open, honest communication.

Being direct and honest about what you feel, want, need, and think and respecting what others feel, want, need and think.

Know that you can be assertive with the right tools and by communicating in a way that’s most comfortable to you.

So in my quest to discover how to better communicate and to test whether being aggressive was completed necessary to get my point across to be taken seriously I researched the best assertiveness techniques and tried it out for a month with the most difficult people in my life.

This is what I have learned and here are some tools that will help you to begin to become more assertive.

And no, you don’t have to be a jerk or unauthentic.

 

Lesson 1:

 

Being assertive isn’t about being loud or obnoxious,its  about open honest communication.

This was one thing that worried me about being assertive.

I had this pre-conceived idea that I had to be mean to be taken seriously.

When I learned that being assertive is just being honest with myself and others, that reframe was a game changer.

You can be passive or you can be aggressive., neither are entirely effective but assertiveness allows for both parties to be heard and understood without damaging the relationship.

 

Lesson 2:

All communication is important.

It is best to assert yourself by speaking your truth in a non-judgmental way.

Be simple and direct.

To do so stay calm, keep an even tone and use I statements.

“ That made me feel left out when you said that.” is much easier to swallow for to other person than” You all are always leaving me out”. I can feel them getting defensive already.

By communicating your wants, needs feeling and opinions it not only gives the other person permission to do the same but it also help create a mutually respectful and open relationship.

Also you communicate with not only you words but also your body language.

Remember to make eye contact and stand up strait. You have to believe the words that you are saying and believe that you should be taken seriously.

 

Lesson 3:

Don’t feel bad about how you feel.

It’s important as I mentioned above to own your thoughts, feelings, etc. People may not agree with how you feel and that’s ok. SO remember…

Don’t apologize for how you feel-they are your feeling

Don’t justify why you do or don’t want to do something unless for the sake of understanding.

Not so someone can prove to you that you are wrong or make you do something you don’t want to do

Pick your battles-is this really important to you? Speak up about the things that really matter to you.

 

Lesson 4:

 

Not being assertive hurts relationships and yourself.

I thought I was doing myself and the other person a favor by not being assertive and being agreeable but really I was hurting the relationship.

People didn’t really know who I was or what I felt.

And after a while of not expressing them I barely knew what I stood for myself.

By being passive I was taken advantage of and walked over.

I was resentful and it made for passive aggressive and hostile relationships.

I was stressed, overthinking, and felt like a victim. And the more I agreed the less my self-esteem went with it.

The more you express your beliefs and feelings and stand up for yourself the more your self-confidence rises regardless of the reaction of the other person.

 

I’ve learned that I am not responsible for how others feel or act.

I can speak my truth and if someone disagrees or gets upset and I know I remained respectful I can’t control their reaction.

You can’t control how other people think or feel you can only control yourself.

 

 

In closing

 

Sometimes to get our needs met we decide to be passive aggressive. Because lets be honest, its easier.

It’s easier to let the dishes pile up to make a statement to our roommate that we’re tired of pulling the weight.

It seems harder to directly ask the person to do the dishes. Make a choice to be intentional and be assertive not only to improve your relationships but because it ‘s also better for you.

 

Choose to look at the situation as an opportunity where with compromise both parties can be happy. Look to solve the problem.

 

Don’t assume you know how the other person will react. Try to think of the best-case scenario and how you want to end the conversation and move forward.

 

Practice makes better. You won’t be a pro overnight and you will make mistakes. Be gentle with yourself and know that as long as you are making an effort you are learning and growing.

 

Rehearse. I know it sounds silly but sometimes its easier to rehearse what you want to say so you feel more comfortable and prepared in the situation.

 

I learned I was just missing the tools I needed to start being aggressive. Start in a way that feels most natural to you and don’t beat your self up when things don’t go as planned. I would love to hear how you are learning to be more assertive