Personal and professional success depends on many personality factors, one of the most important is your level of assertiveness. Some women feel uncomfortable being assertive and the media often judge women that are assertive. However, being assertive is a critical component of achieving what you want in life.
If you feel that becoming assertive may negatively impact your personality, then you should consider changing your mindset. Your wants and needs are just as important as anyone else’s. Becoming more assertive requires that you change your body language and verbal articulation, many people find this difficult and feel trapped by their passive behaviour.
Here are some tips to help you become more assertive with the people you deal with in life.
Building an Assertive Mindset
Your emotions matter.
Experiencing anger is not a bad thing. While anger may be a negative emotion, expressing it is a healthy way to deal with it instead of bottling up those angry feelings.
Your emotional reactions are as they are and you must accept them. Avoid feeling that you shouldn’t react to something that way, as this is an excuse to avoid dealing with them.
Proactively dealing with you emotions is a far better way to handle the situation.
For example, if a colleague interrupts your presentation, it is okay to feel angry about it. However, managing the internal anger response is what matters. Accept that you are experiencing anger and allow yourself to feel the emotion until it fades away. Build a collaborative, assertive mindset.
If you work to help others achieve what they want, they will most likely respond in turn to your needs. Assert your needs while you work towards helping others with their own. Collaborating with people around you allows you to be assertive, without being viewed as aggressive.
This is an especially good tip for women who struggle with assertiveness. It is a good way to get into the habit of getting what you want more often without the need to be too forceful. As you get more used to this you can move onto other areas. Guilt is a self-destructive avoid it.
You should never feel guilty about any of your decisions. Guild breeds uncertainty and compromise which in turn will lead you to being less assertive not more.
If you experience feelings of guilt when you assert yourself, then step away from that thought for a minute. Remind yourself that your thoughts and opinions matter, and that they are just as valid as anyone else’s.
If you are experiencing negative thoughts or guilt about your decisions, check them as they arise.
If a friend asks you to look after their pets while they were away and you feel guilty for declining, remember why you said no and validate it in your mind. You were too busy to take care of the pet and would have neglected it. Therefore, your logic and reasoning were correct and there is no reason to doubt yourself. Ignoring negativity from those around you is a crucial part of developing an assertive mindset. When you assert yourself, ignore all of the negative commentary and criticism. Remember that it is entirely natural and healthy for you to assert yourself, do not back down to social and environmental pressure. Some people, especially men, may have embedded insecurities in their psyche that make them feel intimidated by a strong, assertive women. Dealing with these people's insecurities is not your problem. If they continue to belittle you and mock you, take an assertive position and confront them about it. Remember it’s not your problem it’s theirs.
Learning and Using Assertive Behavior
Learn and use assertive body language to back up your assertive words physically. Many women unknowingly use shy or submissive body language, undermining themselves.
If your body language does not match your spoken words, your words will have no impact. By changing your body language, you add physical reinforcement to your words.
- Hold eye contact with people when you are talking them and avoid breaking eye contact too quickly. This signals to people that you don’t have the confidence to hold their gaze. Counting to three before looking away is a good simple guide.
- Hold your head high, keep your back straight and your shoulders pulled back. Avoid doing anything that makes you take up less space. Confident people are happy taking up whatever space they need.
- A handshake is the universal body language of business, make sure that you practice a firm handshake.
You also need to watch for verbal ticks that can signal a lack of confidence. Commit to expressing your thoughts without apologies or caveats and also making sure that your thoughts are heard.
Try to bring up your opinion at every meeting that you attend and place it into the conversation without qualification. Instead of saying, ¨Can I offer an alternative?¨, just offer your opinions without asking. Avoid qualifying statements. Similarly when speaking one-on-one with others in the office try to be as direct and clear as possible. Instead of saying, ”Would I be able to have that report by the end of the day?”, change the language to ¨I need that report by the end of the day.¨ Learn the art of negotiation. Being assertive can get you more out of the deal. If you are unafraid to test the waters in your next negotiation, you’ll probably surprise yourself with how much you can get out of the other party. If they believe that you have the confidence to walk away from the deal you’ll probably find them far more accommodating!
Being assertive is one of the qualities of a good leader. Many women worry that people won’t like they for being assertive but the irony is that knowing what you want and why you want it and telling people that clear will actually make you more attractive to other as well as helping you to achieve your personal and professional goals.