How To Be More Assertive

Are you a pushover? Do you have trouble saying ‘no’, or find it impossible to stand up for yourself and say how you feel? If you’ve answered yes to any of these, then you need to learn to be more assertive.

Being assertive is an expression of confidence, self-love and being true to yourself. It is not selfishness. Assertive people can still be compassionate, but they know their boundaries. For example, they will help out a friend in need, but if that friend is requesting something that puts them out, or makes them feel uncomfortable, assertive people know how to say ‘no’.

In today’s society, we are often scared to offend others and put their needs and wants before our own. However, our failure to be assertive allows others to constantly drain us. We begin to shrink in character as a consequence, often feeling resentful.

So how can you be more assertive? Here are my top tips. 

Your tone and body language speak volumes

If you mean something then express it clearly without anger. Make eye contact, keep your voice firm and fair. Keep body language relaxed and neutral. Head up and back straight. Avoid crossing arms and fiddling. Assert what you want or don’t want.

Practice saying ‘no’ without the life story

When you say ‘no’ you don’t have to explain why. Your time is yours, and you owe nobody that. You can say ‘’not today thanks’’, or ”I’ll give it a miss thanks’’. These are all perfectly acceptable. Do not apologise! 

Take the risk

Being Assertive involves a degree of risk-taking. It takes a big person to disagree with something or express an unpopular opinion. It may not make you popular but in the long run, will gain you respect for your honesty and openness. Stay true to yourself.

If you don’t ask you don’t get

It’s ok to ask or suggest and troubleshoot. You may surprise yourself when asking. All they can say is ‘yes’, or ‘no’ so don’t avoid to ask or negotiate.

Walk away

If certain people are not bending and insist on arguing, then there is no win. Know it’s ok to agree to disagree and walk off. Nobody loses anything by doing this. Use humour if it’s safe. It may calm the situation if it is getting out of hand.

Accept compliments and criticism without losing it

If people are putting you down, it’s ok to defend yourself. As for compliments, I often see people throw them right back at the giver. ‘This old thing?’ or ‘I don’t look nice, I look horrible.’ If someone compliments you, then please accept it graciously.

In the workplace, sell yourself

If you’re in a job interview and they ask you why should they give you the job over someone else then showcase all the great things about you. It isn’t easy to do but think about all your qualities. Make a list of your strengths and positively celebrate them.

Be a signpost

You can still be kind and helpful to people without having to step in and carry the load. Redirect people. Empower them to see their potential instead of relying and being dependant on you. If you are going to help, be clear about your boundaries. Don’t feel guilty if you cannot help; we can’t change the world single headedly.

Assertiveness mantra

What I allow is what will continue.  When I say yes to others, I am saying no to myself. I no longer permit that.

No is a complete sentence.  No need to explain. No need to apologise.

Reena Jaisiah is a health and lifestyle writer from the Midlands with a background in holistic health and creative arts. Reena full-time job is with vulnerable young people. Most of her spare time is dedicated to organic food, making natural remedies and cosmetics.

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