I think you will agree with me that for many of us moms, being assertive can be downright uncomfortable.
We practice it on the daily with our children and maybe even with our spouses. Yet, with others outside our own circle, it can be so difficult to share what we want in fear of sounding selfish, aggressive, or pushy.
Even though it may be uncomfortable, there are ways to ease yourself in becoming more assertive by learning some easy assertiveness tips. Being assertive helps you can become more confident in yourself and helps you communicate with others so that you can get what you want and need more often.
My Recent Assertiveness Challenge
Just this last week I had a couple of sofas I ordered from Costco delivered to my house. After watching the delivery guys treat the sofas much like American airlines employees treat a piece of luggage, I wanted to make sure all the mechanics were working.
I plugged in the sofas and immediately played with the buttons making sure each chair was operational. One of the sofa chairs was not plugged in. It was or course at that moment that I was asked to sign the papers. I told the delivery man, “Let me make sure this chair works first.” In which he replied, “OK, but how about you sign the papers first.”
I held the paper in my hand. The delivery guy moved his head around agitated as he waited. Many thoughts raced through my head, such as what if it’s broken and Costco says, well you did sign the paper. One thought even relayed as far back as my childhood about when I was shamed for being such a rule follower.
I believe what I needed in that moment were some good assertiveness tips.
What Is Assertiveness?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines assertiveness as someone who behaves confidently and is not frightened to say what they want or believe. Some people are naturally assertive as maybe they have grown up with the skills modeled by their parents, relatives, friends, etc. It is not a skill you are born with, rather a skill that is learned.
According to Mayo Clinic, when we continue to act passively it can lead to:
- Seething anger
- Feelings of victimization
- And even the desire to exact revenge
It seems it would be an easy choice to be more assertive by practicing some assertiveness tips, but learning to be assertive can be uncomfortable. It can be especially uncomfortable if you have limiting beliefs working against you such as believing assertiveness is a form of aggression or even selfish. If you frequently suffer from low self-esteem, please read this article on negative self-talk.
However, the benefits of practicing some assertiveness tips regularly are worth winning the battle within yourself. A few of the many benefits include:
- Gaining the respect of others
- Having your opinion valued
- Gaining more confidence
- Having the ability to say “No” guilt-free
- Being able to resolve conflict with everyone’s dignity intact
Having the ability to study and practice some assertiveness tips as well as model it to our children is very important. We all would like our children to have the ability to know what they want and need in life and stand up for themselves with confidence. At the same time, we want our children to be respectful of someone else’s wants and needs.
Assertiveness is such an amazing tool for problem solvers. It fosters cooperation as well as good listening skills. It will also help our children from becoming pushovers who can be taken advantage of, or lose their voice and become fearful to speak up when it matters most.
5 Easy Assertiveness Tips For Beginners
I am going to share with you 5 gentle assertiveness tips for beginners to help become more assertive:
Assertiveness Tip #1: Know Yourself
Some of us have spent so many years denying what we want and putting others ahead of ourselves that we simply don’t know what we feel, need, or want. It can take some time and contemplation to discover what you do and don’t like.
If you have no clue, start by recognizing how you feel after a conversation has taken place. If you feel unsatisfied or even resentful, take a moment to identify what exactly could have been the cause. Maybe you reluctantly agreed to cook a dish for a party you didn’t want to go to in the first place. Find out exactly what you want and you can communicate that as well as set boundaries for yourself.
Assertiveness Tip #2: Slow Down
Take your time to think about the right thing to say. Don’t feel rushed to talk like that can allow your emotions to get the best of you. If you spend more time articulating what you say and what you believe to be true, people will be eager to listen to you when you speak.
Assertiveness Tip # 3: Start Your Sentences With “I”
When talking with others it is best to avoid sentences that use the word ‘YOU” as it can put the other person on defense. Instead use sentences that start with “I” such as:
- I think
- I feel
- I want
- I need
Assertiveness Tip #4: Mind Your Body Language
Stand tall with good posture, speak up, and make good eye contact. In Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk ‘your body language shapes who you are’, she shares how practicing ‘power poses’ for just two minutes can affect the testosterone and cortisol levels in our brain help raise your confidence and make you more assertive.
Assertiveness Tip #5: Practice It!
An easy way to practice assertiveness is to start with the small opportunities, such as sending your food back at a restaurant when your order was wrong or to ask for a side of ranch or extra napkins. Another easy way is to be the one to make the decision next time someone asks what movie to see or where to eat out.
Eventually, you can move on up to bigger problems such as addressing that neighbor of yours about their dog pooping in your yard. This assertiveness tip is crucial to long term success.
So back to my sofa story, after having a few seconds of false guilt, I remembered what I have been learning on assertiveness and set the paper down and said it will only take a moment, I plugged in the sofa and checked the buttons and THEN signed the papers. I took an opportunity that presented itself to practice some of the assertiveness tips I had been practicing. I take pride in myself for following through with what I felt was important.
Having the initiative to study and practice assertiveness and model it to my children is very important to me. I want my children to have the ability to know what they want and need in life and be able to show confidence while at the same time being respectful of someone else’s desires. This is such an amazing tool for problem solvers to have and it fosters cooperation.
I challenge you to take the next opportunity that comes your way to practice being assertive. The more often you practice your voice will grow to be more powerful and you will earn more respect. Your relationships will grow stronger through more purposeful communication and you will be modeling assertiveness to your loved ones.
Share with us:
When have you practiced being assertive in your life?