Assertiveness–stand up for yourself

The key to assertiveness is being polite, direct, clear and non-attacking. It means standing up for your rights, feelings, beliefs and needs while also respecting those of the other person. This is different from aggression, meanness or being pushy.

Assertiveness isn’t about you being right and everyone else being wrong. Holding your ground “is about respecting yourself enough to make your ideas heard while also respecting the person you’re talking to.”

Assertiveness is a respectful form of communication that provides another person with a clear and an unambiguous message about where you stand.

Posture also plays a very important role when you want to be assertive – A straight posture, eye contact, speaking neither too softly nor too loud, feelings kept calm and an air of confidence even if you might not feel it inside, sends the right signals.

Effective assertion statements should be quite short and as clear as possible.

Take time to learn the ways that work well for you and try and practice different scenarios. Perhaps role-play with a friend or by yourself in front of a mirror. Look at situations where you do (or did) not stand up for yourself and formulate an assertion statement you could have used. Make sure you are familiar with standing your ground when your boundaries are violated!

Discernment is the first step in assertiveness. Don’t engage in a confrontation when you are hungry – for food, or deprived of sleep or in a need for approval. “Do a self-check of where you are emotionally because if you’re feeling particularly down or bad, it could cloud your ability to respond well to the other person.”

Making calm focused breathing a habit throughout the day — every day gives you capacity to absorb any blows that come your way.

Speak clearly. In a heated moment, your throat may tighten or tongue feel thick. First, breathe, as noted above, and then remember that you don’t need to say much. “You just need to say what you feel needs to be said. Take a deep breath and get the words out as clearly as you can.

If someone comes at you with strong emotion, surprise them by agreeing, even if they are criticizing you. You disarm the other person with your agreement, giving them less ammunition to hurt you emotionally and establishing your strength. Once the temperature falls a bit, you can address whatever real issues are at play.

With practice, you will come to know that your assertiveness is grounded in confidence, accuracy, and respect. 

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