Tips for being assertive is something that is often asked for by our clients at Talking Solutions. Do you find it difficult to speak up at a teacher-parent meeting?
Do you find it difficult to prioritise your own needs in your relationships? Do you find yourself going along with others to avoid rocking the boat? Do you have a fear of conflict? Are you known as the ‘nice’ one at work who never says No?
Many of us could use a little more assertiveness in our lives. Many of us have been conditioned since childhood to be people-pleasers and not to cause ripples. This can change with a little practice.
• Assertive behaviour means you recognise that you have equal rights to others. It means standing up for yourself in a way that does not trample on or ignore the rights of others.
• Assertive behaviour means acknowledging your own needs in a situation and taking responsibility for having these needs met.
• The first part of the process is self-awareness and this awareness can become your best friend. Monitor your own reactions to people and situations and notice when you are falling into a passive or aggressive response, or wavering between the two.
• Notice your body language and make sure it matches your spoken language. Stand tall but relaxed, push your shoulders back. Make eye contact and keep a level tone of voice.
• If refusing someone a request, use their first name, it helps!
• Express yourself in a way that communicates respect and goodwill and leaves the door open for good relations. You will earn more respect for not being a wimp. Avoid wishy-washy responses, ‘I might be there if I can’.
• Sometimes people won’t ask directly for what they want. They will keep hinting and go a roundabout way until you cave in. If you usually get caught like this, don’t respond, or leap in to fix their problem. Wait for them to come clean. Then be ready with your response, ‘I’m sorry you have got that problem’. Then stop.
• If you know someone is pushing your Guilt buttons practice using a positive No. If you are afraid of being manipulated by anger and/or tears, remember how people chose to react as adults is their personal responsibility and choice.
• Many of us say Yes to things because we fear retribution, in subtle or not-so-subtle ways if we don’t. Recognise that you do not have to say Yes, unless you really want to. Recognising this choice will boost your own self-respect and sense of empowerment. Practice at the small things and then you will be ready to tackle bigger challenges.

A no uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a yes, uttered merely to please or, what is worse, to avoid trouble’ Mahatma Ghandi