RESOURCES - Assert Yourself

What Does It Mean To Be Assertive?

Let's start by defining what it is not. Being assertive does not mean being aggressive. Assertive behaviour is not hostile, blaming, threatening, demanding, or sarcastic. Assertiveness differs from aggression in that standing up for yourself does not trespass on the rights of others. Assertiveness means communicating what you want in a clear manner, respecting your own rights and feelings and the rights and feelings of others.

Being assertive is an honest and appropriate expression of one's feelings, opinions, and needs. Assertiveness is also often associated with positive self-esteem and a better self-image.

How Do You Become More Assertive?

1. Develop a value and belief system, which allows you to assert yourself. In other words, give yourself permission to be angry, to say "No," to ask for help, and to make mistakes. Avoid using tag questions. ("It's really hot today, isn't it?"), disclaimers ("I may be wrong, but..."), and question statements ("won't you close the door?") all lessen the perceived assertiveness of speech.

2. Resist giving into interruptions until you have completed your thoughts. (Instead, say - "Just a moment, I haven't finished.")

3. Stop self-limiting behaviours, such as smiling too much, nodding too much, tilting your head, or dropping your eyes in response to another person's gaze. 4. When saying "No," be decisive. Explain why you are refusing but don't be overly apologetic.

5. Use "I want" or "I feel" statements. Acknowledge the other person's situation or feelings followed by a statement in which you stand up for your rights. E.g., "I know you're X, however I feel..."

6. Use "I" language (this is especially useful for expressing negative feelings.) "I" language helps you focus your anger constructively and to be clear about your own feelings. For example:

7. Maintain direct eye contact, keep your posture open and relaxed, be sure your facial expression agrees with the message, and keep a level, well-modulated tone of voice.

8. Listen and let people know you have heard what they said. Ask questions for clarification.

9. Practice! Enlist the aid of friends and family and ask for feedback. Tackle less anxiety-evoking situations first. Build up your assertiveness muscle. Don't get discouraged if you behave non-assertively. Figure out where you went astray and how to improve your handling of the situation next time. Reward yourself each time you've pushed yourself to be assertive regardless of whether or not you get the desired results.Each practice opportunity is also an opportunity to feel good about yourself for speaking up and feeling good about yourself is a step toward building more self esteem and confidence. Good Luck!