Everyone wants to be more confident, but not everyone knows how to be assertive. Assertive means being more comfortable with speaking up and advocating for yourself. Being assertive falls somewhere between passive and aggressive. If you're passive about voicing your opinion, you may come across as submissive. But if you are aggressive with your viewpoint, you may come across as hostile or, even rude sometimes.
But if you learn the art of being assertive, you can express yourself without being aggressive, and you will stand a better chance at getting what you want.
Keep your communication style in line
When it comes to being assertive, knowing how you communicate is very critical, and something to be kept in mind is to be respectful of those with whom you are trying to communicate. Pay attention to your body language while communicating as well as to the words you speak, and make sure you're congruent in your words. Never expect people to read your mind or understand things themselves, if you want something, say so, and if something bothers you, speak up for yourself. Look confident when making a request or even if you are just stating a preference. Stand up straight, lean in a bit if required, smile or keep a neutral facial expression, and maintain eye contact.
Understand and accept the key differences
Assertiveness doesn't mean being dismissive of other people's needs or their point of view. Just as you like to state your own opinion, you have to understand other points of view too. Don't allow differences in perspective to upset you or even make you angry. These differences don't necessarily mean that you are right and the other person is wrong. Try to understand their point of view by listening respectfully and not interrupting when they are speaking.
Speak simply and directly
When you're practicing assertiveness, it's essential to communicate in a way that doesn't imply accusations or make the other person feel guilty. Speaking your point of view should not mean that you are not respecting the other person's feelings. Be simple, direct, and concise, and state what you know to be true for you. When asserting yourself, always keep in mind that less is more. Keep your requests free of long-winded explanations.
Exercise the power of "I"
To be assertive without coming across as hostile or rude, use "I" statements. It's considered polite when you use terms like “I think ... " or "I feel... " Avoid using aggressive language or phrases like "You never... " or "You always... " These statements can trigger other people, leaving them frustrated, and also leading them to shut down the conversation. "I" statements allow you to be confident and assertive without eliminating the other person’s point of view.
Being assertive might make you feel excited and sometimes can come up as being aggressive. Learn to acknowledge the fact that you can't control others. Learn to stay cool and calm when expressing yourself. This will ensure that you come across as more confident and also allow the other person to relax. Calm mind, calm speech and calm action will allow you to be confident, but allow the other person to remain composed as well. This will help in eliminating any heated arguments and eventually lead to healthy conversations.
Be open to criticism and compliments
Accept both positive and negative feedback graciously, humbly and positively. If you don't agree with the criticism that you receive then you need to be prepared to say so, but without getting defensive or angry. Learn to use it constructively and use it to achieve significant, positive change.
Prepare the message that you want to convey ahead of time. For instance, you can't take on any more work, be direct in your approach and say, "I cannot take on any more projects as of now." If people still don't get the message, then keep restating your message using similar rephrased language, and don't relent. Eventually, they will likely realize that you mean what you're saying and they will have to consider that.
Boundaries are the rules and limits you create for yourself that help you in deciding whatever you are comfortable with, what you will and won't allow. You don't want people to walk all over you, but you don't even want people to think you are a bully, either. Setting boundaries in relationships, friendships will empower you to know when you need to say yes and also when you want to say no.
Remember that learning to be assertive takes time and practice and isn’t a one day process. If you've spent years silencing yourself, becoming more assertive probably won't happen overnight. Or if your anger leads you to be aggressive, you may need to tweak the approach and learn some anger management techniques.
There could be instances wherein certain issues such as anger, stress, anxiety or fear are getting in your way, consider talking to a professional. By becoming more assertive, you can begin to express your true feelings and needs in a good manner. This will also lead to you achieving more of what you want from your life.