I want to be assertive

Being quiet and keeping to yourself won’t build your self-esteem. You can learn to change.

I want to be more assertive but I don’t know how. I really don’t like the idea of anyone not liking me. How do I change?

You want others to like you. But how can they have any feelings about you if they don’t know who you are?

Unassertive people don’t share themselves with others. They keep quiet or say what they think others want to hear. They are afraid to speak their truth.

You have opinions you could share. You have grievances you could express. And you would like to stop others taking advantage of you by saying  “no” sometimes.

But you don’t. You hide behind a mask, a mask of sweetness and mediocrity.

You might think you are liked and valued by your friends. Perhaps that makes you happy. But who exactly do they like? They don’t know the person behind the mask.

You worry that people won’t like you if you assert yourself. Instead start worrying that the person your friends like is an impostor. You gain no self-esteem by playing this game of being artificially nice.

The best way to start being assertive, is to speak out. To overcome your fear, you need begin verbalising your views.

You fear offending someone or looking foolish. You think they will judge you and not want anything to do with you.

How do you feel about people who are forceful, lively and speak over the top of others?

Most probably you don’t like them very much. You would hate to be like them.

You need to reappraise people like this. They have some skills that you lack. Observe them closely. How do get their point of view across? What do others think of them? Could they express their views less aggressively?

Start valuing these pushy people. They have a lot to teach you.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to be like them. There are ways to convey your opinions without being over the top. But if you dislike them, you are not going to learn from them.

There is a secret to being effectively assertive. Once you know this secret it is easy. The secret is owning your words by being honest and  specific.

You do this with the language you use. “I “statements are the cornerstone of assertiveness.

Let’s pretend your have arrived late to meet a friend. Although you are usually on time, your friend has accused you of always being late. You have decided to speak up for a change. Using an “I” statement you would say something like this:  “I feel disappointed when I hear you say that I am always late. Before this evening I have always been on time.”

Angry, pushy people are more likely to be aggressive and blame rather than being assertive. They would say something like:  “How dare you say that. I am always on time.”

The  “I” statement details your grievance. Most importantly, you share your feelings and experience directly. You avoid blame.

It is difficult to argue with a well constructed ” I” statement.

If your friend says “You’re mistaken. I never said you are always late.”, then you can easily back track and say that you must have misheard them. Even if you are sure you heard correctly, you have still let him know you won’t tolerate false accusations. If he says you have no reason to be upset, you can stand your ground. You are allowed to have your feelings. He cannot tell you how you are feeling.

Your friends want to get to know the real you. Using  “I” statements allows you to express yourself. Think about what you observe and how you feel. Then share your observations and feelings with your friends.

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