How Can I Become More Assertive?

Theresa writes...

"I am tired of getting walked all over. I need to stand up for myself and be more assertive. What do I do? Help!"

Replies (10)
  • Speak up.

    Speak with confidence even if you don't feel confident. Practice speaking this way. The more you practice the more it will become second nature.

    Express your needs.

    It might be hard to break out of your shell the first time, but eventually people will listen to what you have to say. Let them get used to the fact that you're speaking up and showing that you have wants, needs, and desires just like anyone else.

    Learn how to deal with your frustrations.

    If you keep everything bottled inside, you might end up exploding in someone's face. People won't see this as assertiveness; more likely, they'll see it as arrogance or aggression. When you're frustrated, voice your opinion as soon as you can while the situation is at hand and work out your differences together.

    • Model your behavior after people you admire.

      Chances are the people you admire have the assertiveness and confidence you're looking for in your own life.

      • Observe how they do things.
      • Pay attention to what they say and how they say it.
      • Watch their body language.

      Studying people who have the traits you crave is one of the best ways to create those very same traits in yourself.

      • Become informed.

        One of the best methods of being assertive and confident is to know your subject matter. No matter what the situation is, the more you know, the more confident you'll be.

        • It doesn't matter if it's a job interview or a presentation to your peers, knowing what you're speaking about will give you that aura of confidence you desire.
        • Be prepared for potential questions on your subject matter. A good idea is to have a trusted coworker help you identify common questions and answers. You will gain confidence in front of others when you first brainstorm and practice with someone you are comfortable with.
        • Remember the difference between being aggressive and assertive.

          People respond better to an assertive person rather than an aggressive person.

          • Aggressive people are seen as bullies who approach a problem with harsh criticism. They would say someone is doing a project "all wrong," for example.

          • An assertive person, on the other hand, approaches the same situation with concerns and ideas to improve the project.

          • Your goal should be to approach people with positive attitudes and solutions to problems. If you respect others and treat them as you want to be treated, you'll have the same courtesy returned to you.
          • Pay attention to your body language.

            Give extra attention to your body language when you practice being assertive. People will know that it's a front if your shoulders are hunched or your arms are crossed. You might even have a nervous tick. Open up your shoulders and relax your body before you begin speaking.

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