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A more assertive you

So, you’ve committed to make that change. The change may be small, like making time for a hobby, or more profound such as following your lifelong dream. Chances are you will need to look, feel and be assertive to reach your goal.

Being assertive means taking responsibility for appropriately expressing what you want – your needs, views, ideas and feelings. Assertiveness also means acknowledging that other people have needs, views, ideas & feelings that need to be heard. Being assertive can sometimes feel less than easy, so here are Positive Change Guru’s five top tips for creating a more assertive you:

1. Be assertive – build your self-belief

Self-belief is the foundation of assertiveness. Develop a strong sense of self-belief by monitoring your inner dialogue or self-talk and noticing when statements are negative or confidence sapping. Challenge negative statements by replacing them with a positive, self-belief affirming sentence. For example, if you find your self-talk stating,

“Why bother trying? The last time I tried it was a complete failure.”

respond by telling yourself,

“Everybody has to practice to get better at things. The more often I practice, the better I will become.”

2. Be assertive – be body language savvy

More than 80% of all our communication is non-verbal. That means that when you are seeking to assert yourself and influence others you need to be aware of how positive body language can  help you to achieve your goal. When we look confident it is easy for others to believe that we have something to be confident about. An easy way to start practising positive body language straight away is by focusing on the following:

1. A smile is an instant way to create a positive impression and develop rapport.

2. Your body should be relaxed and open . Not only does relaxed body language help you to remain calm, it also puts others at their ease.

3. Maintain an even tone of  voice. To be assertive, make sure that your tone of voice is even. An even tone conveys that your emotions are in check and you have the situation under control. A tone that is too high may convey excitement or anxiety. A flat, monotonous tone runs the risk of conveying boredom or resignation.

4. Maintaining good eye contact is essential to effective communication, don’t allow your focus to wander to the ground or around the room when you feel under pressure. Maintain direct eye contact for approximately 60% of the interaction for maximum effect.

3. Be assertive –  Get Modelling

Modelling is all about observing someone that you admire for their assertiveness skills and asking “What assertive behaviour are they utilising that I can emulate?” The more similar to that person you believe yourself to be, the more effective the results of this technique. So the next time you find yourself admiring someone’s assertiveness, note exactly what they are doing to create such an assertive impression.

Are they cool and unruffled under pressure? Do casually take their time, managing aggressive challenges effortlessly? Is everyone wowed by their authoritative body language? Although this technique is about observing behaviour, you can also ask the person for their top tips on being more assertive. Once you have discovered exactly what they are doing, saying or projecting to be so assertive, model that behaviour for yourself.

4. Be assertive – Listen

Listening is a key component of your assertiveness toolkit. Effective listening allows you to hear what the other person is thinking, needing and feeling. This information is invaluable and helps you to negotiate and influence effectively. Listening also provides you with an opportunity to pause, practise calm and think about which assertive techniques you want to use.

5. Be assertive – Stay calm

Finding a technique that supports you to remain calm in the moment whilst under pressure is vital. The technique that works for you will be as individual as your personality. There is no ‘one size fits all’ technique here but popular techniques for managing anxiety in the moment are thinking of someone or something that has a calming effect on you, practising holding thumb and forefinger together whilst in a state of calm and then using the thumb and forefinger technique whilst under pressure to evoke that feeling of calm.

Breathing is another popular technique. Your breathing is connected to and influences everything: how you hold yourself, tone of voice, level of anxiety. Make sure that your breathing fosters calm. Five in and out breaths per minute will maximise your ability to stay calm and collected and assert yourself to the max.

Want to know more? Amy Cuddy gives a fantastic Ted Talk on how what we do with our bodies affects not just what we communicate to others but how we also manage stress .

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