Publication date November 8, 2023

Assertive Behavior: How to Speak Up for Yourself Without Being Aggressive

Do you often feel as if you fail to get your opinions heard at your workplace, or that people readily dismiss or undermine your point of view? Maybe you lack the confidence to speak up or have a habit of handling situations aggressively. 

You might have felt that you were unable to do anything about it at the time, but by adopting assertive behavior, you can stand up for yourself, and become a strong and confident communicator. 

In this post, we will look at exactly what is assertive behavior, why is it important, and explore some strategies that you can use to become more assertive to improve both your confidence and influencing skills.

What is Assertive Behavior?

Assertive behavior can work as one of the greatest tools at work and at home. It can transform the way people respond to you and have a huge impact on the success of your work and personal relationships too. 

But exactly what is assertive behavior? It is a way of expressing your feelings in a calm and positive way so that they are listened to, respected, and appreciated by others. 

One important feature of this behavior is saying no, and explaining why. It can be one of the most powerful things you can do in the workplace. 

Being assertive can help you establish those all-important work boundaries, stopping you from feeling stressed, undervalued, or angry. 

Is Assertive Positive or Negative?

Assertive behavior is positive because assertiveness is based on mutual respect, without any judgment or disrespect.

it's nothing but an effective and diplomatic communication style. You are being assertive it shows that you respect yourself and you are willing to stand up for your interests and express your thoughts and feelings.

It also shows that you are aware of others' rights to work on resolving conflicts. And of course, it’s not just what you say to others but also how you say it that’s essential. 

Assertive communication is just direct and respectful so there is nothing negative about it. Being assertive offers you the best chance of successfully delivering your message. 

If your communication is too passive or too aggressive, your message may get lost because people are too busy reacting to your delivery. Let’s take a closer look at assertiveness vs aggressiveness below: 

Assertiveness vs Aggressiveness

If your communication style is aggressive, you are likely to come across as a bully who ignores others and needs feelings and opinions. 

Your colleagues may see you as a self-righteous or superior person. Not to mention that very aggressive people embarrass, intimidate, and scare others and may even be physically threatening.

So you may think that being aggressive gets you what you want and is highly beneficial to you, but it comes at a cost. Aggression weakens trust and mutual respect, resulting in a detachment from your favorite people.  

In this case, being assertive is all you need to adopt, it will help you continue your relationship with mutual respect, and you will feel more respected and appreciated too. 

The Benefits of Assertive Behavior 

Being assertive is usually appreciated as a healthier communication style. Assertiveness offers multiple benefits to you.  It helps you build longer relationships. It can also help you from appearing like a bully to others.

Here are a few points on how behaving assertively can help you:

  • You gain self-confidence and self-esteem
  • You gain a sense of empowerment
  • People understand you in a better way 
  • You earn respect from others
  • Helps you improve communication
  • Help you improve your decision-making skills
  • Create honest and healthy relationships
  • You gain more job satisfaction

One of the most common examples of being assertive is that you can share your opinion with others without any disrespect or guilt. 

How do you adopt Assertiveness?

I hope, now you know the importance of assertive behavior at your work as well as at home. So if you want to change your communication style to be listened to, respected, and appreciated by others. 

Here are some tips to help you become more assertive in your communication: 

1. Understand your style: Do you express your opinions or remain silent? Do you say yes to every work even when you are busy? Are you quick to judge or blame others? Do people seem to fear talking to you? It is important to understand your style before you begin making any changes.

2. Use 'I' statements: When you use I statements it lets others know what you're thinking or feeling without sounding accusatory. For example, say, "I disagree," rather than, "You're wrong."

3. Practice saying no:  If you are too busy to say yes to some additional work, try saying, "No, I can't do that now." Always remember that no is a complete sentence so you don't need to give any explanation as to why you chose to say no. Also, you don’t need to hesitate, be direct. 

4. Rehearse what you want to say: If it's challenging to say what you want, practice the general scenarios you encounter. Say what you want to say or think out loud. You can also consider role-playing with a friend or colleague and asking for clear feedback.

5. Use body language: It is critical to understand that communication isn't just verbal. Act confident even if you aren't feeling demotivated. Keep an upright posture, but lean forward a bit and make regular eye contact with whoever you are talking to. Maintain a positive facial expression. Don't cross your arms or legs when you are communicating with anyone. Just face the person. 

I’m hoping that this guide has answered all of your questions related to assertive behavior. As a final note, I just wanted to add, that learning to be assertive takes some time. 

If you have spent several years silencing yourself, It will probably not happen overnight. So simply practice the above-mentioned points and sooner or later you will see impactful results. 

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