18 tips to increase your assertivenessThis will improve your assertiveness
Learn how to gain and apply assertiveness. In this article you will get 18 recommendations for more assertiveness in private and professional life.
Assertiveness is a type of behavior that is used to express one’s needs in a healthy, prosocial manner. Being assertive can be beneficial in a variety of social settings, although there can also be consequences of being excessively assertive.
Being assertive won’t come easy to everyone. Some people are naturally more assertive than others. If you aren’t, you can learn to be assertive fairly easily.
Assertiveness depends on persuasiveness. What needs to be convincing is inseparably linked to the person who wants to realize his or her intentions. Besides the quality and attractiveness of the offer, its compelling presentation is also important. How we are perceived has a great impact on our assertiveness and is a major factor in determining whether we can gain trust and support or whether we will be met with resistance. This applies not only in the professional context but also in the private sphere.
There are many ways to strengthen your assertiveness: charisma, technical and social skills, rhetorical and communicative abilities as well as negotiating skills all have a positive effect. Experiences also play a major role, although they take some time to mature as a personality. Other factors can be learned, especially non-verbal communication. And here are 18 tips:
1. Know yourself
If you know yourself, your strengths, weaknesses, values and priorities, goals, or even vision, your role, it is much easier.
It is a lifelong task to deal with fundamental questions and to practice self-reflection. It is worth it!
Healthy self-assurance is based on self-confidence and self-awareness, i.e. the knowledge of personal characteristics, strengths and potentials, experiences, and expectations of self-efficacy. This is reflected in consistent perception, thinking, and acting.
2. Clear goals
Clarify your goals and priorities for yourself and then deliver clear messages. If you do not fully understand your goals, it will be difficult to communicate them. But this is exactly what is required.
It is important to have manageable goals over a foreseeable period that are pursued consistently. Afterward, check how the goal has been achieved and what can be learned.
Achieving small goals boosts self-confidence and encourages you to face new challenges, thus improving your assertiveness over time.
3. Remain loyal to your values
Assertive people need not be ruthless egoists.
Even if you have the power to assert something in the event of resistance or to disregard recognized values, you would rather remain true to yourself. Otherwise, it will be a superficial victory. The end does not justify the means!
4. Dealing with those who think differently
If you want to push something through, you have to expect rejection as soon as it causes changes for others. This is not only the case when it comes to actual change, but also the presumed effects and intentions. Put yourself in the perspective of other people.
Transparency and credibility can prevent or at least reduce resistance. Remember that the meaning of a message is ultimately determined by the recipient. Therefore, an appropriate form of communication should be chosen to minimize the probability of misunderstandings.
Don’t get drawn into slinging matches, even if the other person gets angry. Stay calm. Listen to what the other person is saying. You can empathize with someone else’s feelings without necessarily agreeing with him or her and giving in to the other point of view. If a point of view is tenable, there are convincing, reasonable arguments for it. Then it is also possible to point out the advantages.
Aggressiveness, on the other hand, is an indication that your issues have not been clarified.
Concentrate on finding a solution to a problem rather than trying to win the argument.
5. Pressure compared to openness
Pressure produces counter-pressure, this principle is known from physics. However, this principle can also be applied to communication. The one who asserts himself at any cost makes his counterpart an opponent and evokes rejection, even if the result would be beneficial to others. If, on the other hand, you demonstrate that you only use your power when it is really necessary, you allow your counterpart to participate in the process and thus reduce resistance.
6. Mental balance
We constantly reveal information about ourselves. Body language signals, in particular, convey whether one believes in what he says. This is particularly relevant in negotiation situations, in which interlocutors usually observe each other closely and critically question the motives of the others. In such moments, thoughtless body language makes you vulnerable. But it expresses what is going on inside us.
Assertiveness requires a convincing appearance. Those who have lost their mental balance find themselves in a state of imbalance. In that case, you have less access to the resources otherwise available.
Therefore, it is important to train to restore the inner balance as quickly as possible when it has been lost. In emotionally emotional moments, for example in situations that are perceived as an attack, we usually react quickly without thinking about the consequences.
The better I know myself and my priorities, the easier it is for me to say “No!” confidently. Those who know themselves and their weaknesses are more autonomous, pay more attention to themselves and their concerns, and communicate more confidently.
7. Inappropriate reactions
An important first step is learning what assertiveness is and what it looks like, as well as the difference between assertiveness and aggression. The likelihood that the first reaction is also the best possible decreases with the degree of negative emotional content. Especially in the case of anger, it is advisable to regain balance and act after the anger is gone. An appropriate, possibly even benevolent reaction conveys sovereignty, increases one’s status, and thus also one’s assertiveness. On the other hand, those who act harshly are accused of weakness and insecurity. Even constant yielding is not sensible: it results in discrimination, weakens one’s reputation and the assertiveness is lost. However, those who always assert themselves are accused that it is not about the object, but only about personal success.
In addition to those two extremes, some alternatives aim to take responsibility and show commitment to oneself and one’s cause. The focus should be on convincingly representing one’s interests and personal values, while at the same time inviting the other person to take part in a joint project. To do this, it is necessary to appreciate the opinions of others as well as to deal with resistance. This reflects the whole appearance and especially body language.
8. The role of body language
Non-verbal communication plays a major role in many aspects, although too little attention is often paid to it. While arguments are usually well-prepared, body language is usually left to coincidence. However, body language often says something different from what verbal expressions are supposed to convey. Especially when you try to pretend or suppress something.
Especially in negotiation situations many people want to present themselves advantageously and do not want to let their excitement be noticed. The result then usually does not meet expectations because the inner pressure is very strong and paralyzes both physical and mental agility. Instead of trying to be an actor, it is advisable to perform authentically and professionally. After all, it’s all about presenting yourself and what you offer convincingly. To do this, the verbal and non-verbal elements of the communication have to match: Assertive body language is calm and strong, whereas aggressive body language is tense and intimidating, and passive body language is weak. Keeping good eye contact and limiting loud gestures are great ways to maintain that middle ground.
9. How congruent is your voice?
The impact of the voice is immense, for better or worse. Many details are transported by the voice, whether we want it or not. The listeners derive from it how we are and how we relate to our statements.
To use the voice effectively, it is worth working on the inner attitude, vocal technique, and vocal care.
10. Clear messages instead of softeners
Choose your words carefully. Focus on clear and concise messages. Simple sentences, understandable language … consider the basics of communication.
This also includes avoiding the use of softeners that take the power out of your statements. And be careful with generalities. As powerful as language can be, as easily we shoot ourselves in the foot.
11. Putting words into action
Assertiveness is also based on strong motivation. Personal values provide a basic foundation, which are meaningful guidelines for our actions. Those who formulate and live their values find stability and orientation, also for the assessment of their behavior.
With a well-thought-out plan, especially complex projects become verifiable even before the start: In a sense, a concept provides the blueprint for implementation and provides an overview of the tasks at hand. To move these forward more quickly, priorities are set, i.e. important and less important steps are defined. Arranging the sequence of tasks according to importance and urgency helps to simplify the process and to deploy resources sensibly.
But ultimately only actions can turn a project into reality because the best planning is of little use without consistent implementation. The environment registers how committed we are to our work, and credibility increases when what has been said is put into practice.
12. Dealing with obstacles
Obstacles often do not appear unexpectedly; many are foreseeable or announce themselves. By taking problems into account, appropriate solutions can be prepared in advance. If you have a plan B, you can deal with difficulties in a more relaxed manner.
Others also observe how we deal with obstacles. A lot can be said, but these moments show just how ready we are to act. A lot can be said, but these moments show just how ready we are to act. One positive effect is that every situation we master strengthens us. Trust in our actions and judgments increases. Credibility and the effect on others also benefit from this.
13. Flexibility, movement, and stability
Flexibility means a fundamentally positive attitude towards change. But not all innovations are always appreciated. Some are perceived as unproblematic, while others give us the feeling that we are losing the basis of our familiar life. Changes are, whether we like it or not, a part of life. Therefore, it is worthwhile to adapt to them. Being flexible also means to discover various possibilities in new situations.
The right balance between appreciating and stabilizing what has been achieved, openness to change, and the willingness to evolve ensure flexibility. Those who rest on their success for too long lose their grip and are no longer perceived accordingly.
14. A convincing presentation
The more attractive a goal is, the easier it is to convince other people of it. However, all these advantages are of no use if it is not possible to convince the relevant target group. Without the willingness to stand up for a statement as a personality, many potentials remain unexploited.
It is necessary to clearly define one’s objective. If you do not do this yourself, you will experience that other people will do it for you. The description resulting from this often does not correspond with your interests.
Knowledge and skills are therefore needed to successfully convey an offer. This is a competence that can be learned.
15. Keep pushing
Show stamina. It serves the current project and also future ones if it is recognized that you stick to your plans.
Once you have earned the reputation of sticking to it, doubters become less frequent.
16. Be prepared
Explore the perspectives, put yourself in the shoes of other positions. Collect information such as numbers, dates, facts, and about the characteristics of the persons involved. What are their motives, fears, and personal patterns?
The better prepared you are, the more effectively you will communicate. If you care about a concern, prepare yourself well – with professional support if necessary.
Each of us is dependent on other people. Reaching out to social networks and experts helps us find the support we need for our projects. Interpersonal relationships deserve special attention for this reason too.
While being assertive generally leads to better outcomes in many aspects of life, being overly assertive can also hurt relationships. The solution lies in a competent, respectful interaction with people. Assertiveness is not the ability to realize ideas against, but together with other people.
18. Willingness to learn
Evaluate your experiences, and especially the setbacks. Think about the consequences and what you want to do differently in the future. This way you will constantly become better in whatever you do.
Communication can be very easy. But often it is not. Sometimes we say things and then later notice from the reaction of our conversation partners that they seem to have spoken to someone completely different. I didn't say that with the best will in the world. - Or did I say that after all?
More or less consciously, conversations are about convincing other people of something - be it a special offer, your personality, a perspective, or a necessity. If this doesn't happen fast enough and above all not exactly to the point and descriptively, the person we are talking to quickly loses interest, and we lose the hoped-for opportunity. — Conversation failed.
You can let me support you in the preparation of your conversations and negotiations (to be on the safe side: no legal advice!). Find out how you and your message are perceived (arguments, body language, language, voice, and much more). I will familiarize you with effective tools and communication strategies. Develop your psychological skills, learn to stay calm, act confidently, remain authentic, and finally convince.
Let's get into a conversation. Please post any questions that may be interesting for other readers in the comments. If you are interested in coaching or training, for personal questions about that and appointments you can reach me best by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), phone +49(0)30 864 213 68, and mobile phone +49(0)1577 704 53 56.
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Published: April 30, 2020
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: April 30, 2020
German version: https://www.karstennoack.de/schluesselkompetenz-durchsetzungskraft/