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The first step toward becoming more assertive is taking inventory of how you voice your thoughts and feelings. Do you use a passive or aggressive communication style?
Find yourself automatically saying yes to things without thinking about it? If you tend to do this, Phelan recommends having some go-to phrases when you’re faced with a request or invitation you aren’t that into.
If you find yourself feeling guilty when you try to assert yourself, keep in mind that saying no to a request doesn’t mean you’re rejecting the person .
It’s hard to practice being assertive when you’re in the moment. That’s why Rose recommends mentally pumping up yourself with positive self-talk .
It might sound corny, but if you’re about to have a conversation where you know you’ll have to put your foot down, hype yourself up with positive thoughts of “I’ve got this” or “My time is important.”
If your heart starts racing at the mere thought of placing a boundary, take a moment to breathe deeply, especially if you feel aggression starting to take over.
“Breathing will calm the brain and the body and help ground yourself, making it easier to come back to your intentions,” Rose adds.
Communication isn’t just verbal. Before going into a stressful situation or a difficult conversation, Rose recommends adopting an assertive body stance that makes you feel more confident and powerful.
What does that look like? Stand up straight, rolling your shoulders back. Maintain regular eye contact and a neutral facial expression.
If you have a big issue you’re trying to address, consider role-playing with a trusted friend by practicing different conversation styles. Write it down, then say what you want to say aloud.
Remember to ask for feedback about how clear you’re coming across, and how the other person might see the situation.
Pay attention to how they respond to your tone of voice and body language. Are you communicating without becoming shy or hostile? Evaluate yourself afterward. Tweak your approach according to their input.
Without a healthy and balanced sense of self-worth, you’ll likely keep accepting less from others, or end up giving more than you receive.
“If you don’t believe in yourself, it’ll be hard for someone else to believe in you or give you want you want,” Rose says.
If putting down boundaries feels aggressive or uncomfortable for you, consider this scenario: Your boss is constantly piling work on your desk without checking in on whether you can take more projects.
An aggressive response would be blowing up at your boss in a meeting or demanding that someone else do the work.
An assertive response, on the other hand, would be scheduling a meeting with your boss to discuss a new system for assigning work, or coming up with ways to better delegate responsibilities.
If all of this sounds a bit daunting, consider starting with some small exercises to help you practice being more assertive in low-risk situations.
If you’re finding it hard to practice being more assertive, consider talking things out with a qualified therapist for additional support. Underlying factors, including stress and anxiety, can make it particularly hard to ask for what you need.
A therapist can help you identify roadblocks and come up with new tools for navigating around them.
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📍Poznan - Poland 🤖M.Sc. in Automatic Control and Robotics 🧠 Tech Enthusiast
Assertiveness can help you control stress and anger and improve coping skills. Recognize and learn assertive behavior and communication. Being assertive is a core communication skill. Assertiveness can help you express yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view.
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