“Never feel bad for being assertive, speaking your mind, and putting your foot down. What you think is anger, others see as a good solid display of self-esteem. ” - Alison James
This guest post from our Assertiveness & Confidence Building trainer Sofie explains how assertiveness leads to improved self-confidence. The full 2-day workshop covers techniques for confidence building and boosting self esteem.
It is important to note that being assertive is not about being aggressive.
Assertiveness is a form of positive communication that can be learnt and applied to all areas of your life. It is the skill of knowing and defending your rights but at the same time understanding that others have rights too.
When someone is asserting themselves their primary focus should be on reaching a joint solution, which meets the needs of both people involved. In other words ‘I’m OK and you’re OK’. It is not about getting angry or making someone bow to your demands. This type of aggressive communication is manipulative and threatening and not at all considerate of other people. Equally other non-assertive ways to communicate include passive and passive-aggressive behaviours.
Passive behaviour is displayed when someone allows their self to be compromised to the point where their needs are not being met at all. In other words they will allow the rights of other people to be more important than their own. If this style of communication continues and that person is pushed to their limit they may explode into aggressive behaviour; unlike passive-aggressive behaviour, where the communicator’s words and actions don’t match. For instance the words are positive but the body language is aggressive. This can be very confusing for others to interpret and understand and can often leave relationships fractured and hard to mend. Worst of all this type of non-assertive communication can have a detrimental impact on ones self-esteem.
Keeping your mind and body healthy
On the Assertiveness and Confidence Building course at Silicon Beach Training we talk about how to maintain healthy relationships with others by communicating in an assertive and confident way. When we communicate honestly and clearly we learn to reduce stress and anxiety and deal with matters that bother us as they arise, rather than leaving them to build up over time and turn into something much worse than they are. If we behave in an aggressive or passive way for a long period of time it can have a serious impact on our mental and physical health. This can lead to time off work, difficulties maintaining healthy relationships, avoidance tactics and not being understood by others, thereby not being treated with the respect you deserve.
Here are some top tips on how to communicate assertively and confidently and keep your mind and body healthy:
- If you can, set the scene for your conversation. Ask the person when they are free for a chat, book a quiet room, ask not to be disturbed, make a cup of tea and most importantly before you give your feedback ask not to be interrupted, there will plenty of time for questions later.
- Keep your voice calm, your body language open and give direct eye contact. Sitting down, smiling (if you can) and making someone feel comfortable before you begin will make all the difference to the outcome of your conversation
- Know what it is you want to be assertive about. What has that person done that needs you to be assertive? What are the facts? Do you have the evidence to back up what you’re saying? You need the person you are communicating with to be on your side, so the more evidence you have to support your argument the better. Try starting your conversation with something like ‘I noticed that…’ or ‘last Wednesday it came to my attention that…’
- Keep it objective. Arguments happen when things get personal. You don’t want the person you’re talking to to walk out of the room, so at the beginning be objective and don’t put your feelings into the picture until later in your conversation. Try saying ‘I think’ or ‘it might have come across like…’
- Use I rather than you. When you need to be subjective take ownership for your own feelings and statements. Instead of saying ‘you made me feel…’ try saying ‘I felt…’ or ‘this made me feel…’ You want to challenge the behaviour not the person
- What do you want to change? As you draw your conversation to a close say what you want to change as a result of your communication. Offer an opportunity to review it at a later date if the changes aren’t working. Ask the other person for their feedback.
- Remember being assertive is about meeting your rights and the rights of others. We are all different and our points of view are just that, different points of view neither right nor wrong.
If you follow these steps when you need to give some feedback, challenge someone’s behaviour, say no, deal with conflict or just want to get your point across you will notice a huge difference with how confident you feel and as a result your self-esteem should just get better and better!