If you believe that you have either an aggressive or deferring communication style, you know you need to change. By now, you may have even set goals to become more assertive. Now you need to take the next step and do something about it. It’s easy to make goals. Actually achieving your goals is the hard part. Maybe you don’t know the first step, or any of the steps to get there. Perhaps you know what to do but have a hard time making yourself do it. There are any number of reasons why people have a hard time reaching their goals. In this post, we break down five steps to becoming assertive that will help you meet your goal of developing an assertive communication style:
1. Improve your self-esteem. It’s one thing to know your rights as a person, but it can be hard for some people to actually believe that they deserve those rights. People with low self-esteem or self-worth have a hard time believing that they deserve anything at all. When it comes time to ask for what they want, they don’t do it. They simply don’t think they deserve it. If this sounds familiar to you, it is time to change.
Start by understanding that the only opinion that matters is your opinion of yourself. Don’t worry about what other people think or say about you. Stop comparing yourself to people on TV, the neighbors next door, or the other people in your life. Comparing yourself to others will only make you unhappy. In order to improve your self-esteem, you must believe that you are good as you are.
2. Be Persistent. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That’s what it means to be persistent: To keep trying until you get it right. People with an assertive communication style don’t take “no” for an answer. They know their rights and won’t back down until their needs are met. I know what you’re probably thinking: “It’s hard enough just to ask for what I want one time, and you want me to keep asking over and over again?” The answer is, yes. Think about it, if you always take “no” as the final answer to your requests, why would anyone ever say “yes” to you?
There will be times when, no matter how many times you try, you won’t get your way. Sometimes you may need to come to a compromise, or meet someone in the middle. That’s okay, as long as you’ve made your best effort and demonstrated some persistence.
3. Stand up for yourself. Nobody knows what you want better than you do. Other people can’t read your mind, so it’s up to you to tell them what you want. You are your own best advocate. Assertive people are not afraid to share their opinion and defend it when someone else questions or criticizes them. They don’t allow others to take from them what is rightfully theirs, whether that be a promotion at work or the last piece of cake at the birthday party. If you find yourself struggling with this, ask yourself, “Why does that person deserve this any more than I do?
4. Set Positive Expectations. You only get out of life what you expect, not what you want. The difference is that if you simply want a certain life for yourself, you will wish your life away. If you expect a certain life for yourself you will do what it takes to meet those expectations. We’ve all heard the expression, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” The problem with this mindset is that it doesn’t allow you to believe in your aspirations or goals. If you don’t believe in your goals, you’re not very likely to achieve those goals.
An assertive person has the mindset, “I’ll see it when I believe it.” This idea uses the power of the self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, you get what you expect out of life. If you expect bad things to happen, bad things are bound to happen. On the other hand, if you expect good things, good things will happen. What are your hopes and expectations? What do you really expect to happen in your life?
5. Practice Self-talk. In previous posts, we talked about the importance of positive affirmations in changing your behavior. Self-talk is important in becoming assertive because it produces your expectations. In order to “see it when you believe it,” you need to picture the way you want things to be. Practice seeing these things in your mind until they become your beliefs. Eventually, your habits will begin to match your thoughts, bringing your expectations to life. Self-talk transforms your dreams into reality.
Changing your habits will take time. You have learned your habits over many years. You will need to unlearn the old habits and learn new ones. Assertion involves thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Your self-talk produces beliefs, which in turn affect your feelings, which lead to your behaviors. Remember that the key is your behaviors become your habits. Good luck!
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