Develop Assertiveness Skills

Two business associates talking

Dr. Purushothaman
September 30, 2013

Assertiveness, describes a behavior that we can classify as confident without being antagonistic. With assertiveness skills, we can calmly confront the things in life that we need to confront without being either too afraid to do so effectively, or overbearing and aggressive. For instance, knocking on a neighbor's door and calmly asking him not to mow at 5:30 in the morning would be assertive. Ignoring it and then complaining would be a less confident approach. On the other hand, banging on the door and screaming in his face would be overly aggressive and would only create more problems.

So, you can imagine the differing outcomes of the different approaches and begin to see how finding the middle ground of assertiveness can be more effective and thus, highly beneficial.

Things to Consider

In being assertive, one thing to think about is your time. Time is something that we can never get back. Developing better assertiveness skills can help us protect our time more wisely.

Your time is precious but at the same time, you must spend it on other people's demands quite often. Your job is an important example. Unfortunately, sometimes, we allow others to waste our time inappropriately. Keep track of the time you spend on other peoples needs and know where to draw the line. Spend your time on things that are most important first.

Speaking of drawing the line, we must also learn to set boundaries. Being assertive means that we need to draw some lines and stick to them. You must know yourself and understand what you are and are not willing to put up with. Don't let people walk all over you. Playing the victim later will not help you achieve your goals or become a confident person.
We must learn to let people know politely, when they have crossed our boundaries. If we do this, people will most often respect those boundaries. When doing this, it is also worth noting that you must be clear. Don't leave people guessing because sometimes they will test you to find out how far they can push the limit.
It is important that you do not yield on these boundaries. Often, we are tempted in stressful situations to let things slide or back off of our front lines. This only tells people that you are not serious your boundaries or are not confident enough to back up your own decisions or standpoints. It will make others consider you to be weak and in a sense, this does represent a weakness so they will be somewhat correct.

How to Confront Someone
When confronting someone with a problem, try to draw a mental picture for that person. What I mean by this is, explain the problem in such a way that they can visualize where you are coming from. This will help improve the likelihood that they will identify with your perspective on the issue and hopefully compromise or work constructively with you.

It is important not to try to control the situation. We simply cannot control others actions or reactions and trying to force someone to do something with a rude or forceful attitude will almost never get them to comply. Trying to intimidate people to do what you want will fail. It will cause more complications and problems for you in the end and can even escalate into dangerous situations. You never know who you are dealing with.

Learning to Say No
Last but not least, learn to say no. Confident people are not afraid to ask for things. They will ask anyone for anything that seems reasonable to them. Unfortunately, what seems reasonable to them may not seem reasonable to you. This is where it becomes imperative to say no and mean it.

If you spend your life and your time trying to do what everyone else wants, you will soon find yourself short on time when trying to accomplish your own goals. If someone wants you to do something that you do not want to do, and you know it is reasonable to do so, say no. It takes some practice but it gets easier over time. There plenty of ways to politely explain your reasons if you feel that it is necessary. Do so by all means, but make sure that people know that they cannot take advantage of you or your time.

These are just a few of the more common ways to practice building your assertiveness skills. Assertiveness goes hand in hand with your self-confidence and self-esteem. Practicing and developing skills in any of these areas, in turn help develop the others.

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