How can I be more assertive?

how can I be more assertive
How can I be more assertive?

Positivity manifests itself in many forms, so today we’ll focus on how to be assertive.

To be assertive, you need first to have ticked a few boxes. You should be self assured, positive and confident. There’s more to it than that but this is a good basis. The fact is, if you aren’t naturally assertive it’s a trait which will take time to master.

Other synonyms of the word assertive and their dictionary definitions are really interesting to observe:

  • Forceful – strong and assertive; vigorous and powerful.
  • Self-possessed – calm, confident, and in control of one’s feelings; composed.
  • Insistent – insisting on or demanding something; not allowing refusal.
  • Bullish – aggressively confident and self-assertive.
  • Dominant – having power and influence over others.
  • Assaultive – aggressive or forcefully assertive.

There are some quite alarming sounding words there, the repeated use of the word ‘aggressive’, ‘forceful’, ‘strong’ and ‘powerful’. Don’t let that put you off.

Be more aggressive?

No, don’t be more aggressive. There are differing levels of assertion. I believe many of the words used here are more an outward perception of assertive behaviour and not traits necessary for one to become assertive at all.

Now, why are we discussing assertive behaviour on a positivity blog’? Positivity is a contributory trait in being assertive. Granted if you were to list typical traits you might associate with someone, you might say they’re:

  • Not confident
  • Unhappy or depressed
  • Lacking in aspiration
  • Not movitaved
  • Lonely

Just a few general terms there. This is only generalisation though, not true for everybody of course. However, some of us might identify with those traits. To me they paint a picture of a miserable person, perhaps a recluse? “Wow Mike, this positivity post is all rainbows and kittens so far” I’m thinking to myself, stay with me though…

So if you can identify with any of the miserable person traits, closely linked to misery is:

  • Angry
  • Aggression
  • Power & Strength – following on from aggression
  • Hatred
  • Asssaultive

And now we’re (a little bit on purpose) listing words which are synonyms of our assertive traits. So as far away as someone lacking in confident seems from someone who is assertive and confident, the underpinnings of assertive behaviour are probably closer linked to our current negative (or pre-positive as I like to refer to it) traits. So perhaps assertion is an easier trait to learn as you think.

Let’s learn to be assertive

  1. To be assertive is to display a behavioural trait.
  2. Behaviour is something which is adopted through repetition.
  3. Behaviour is circumstantial.

So we’ve arrived at the circumstances under which assertive behaviour is appropriate, number 3 on our list. We’re going to start at 3 and work backwards.

Rule #1, don’t be a dick. There’s a time and a place for assertive behaviour, it’s not something you should always do. If you’ve ever been on a work training day and you’ve had to do a group exercise with a group of strangers, you’re usually given a task to complete. You work as a group but there’s always THAT GUY, the dick. He’s overly assertive, doesn’t want your input and your opinions don’t matter. Don’t be that guy.

Environment is key

At work.

When beginning to assert yourself, the work place is a great place to start, it’s a common leadership trait and generally leaders which are unable to assert themselves are perceived as weak, uncertain and well, they’re not good leaders.

Ways you can assert yourself here:

  • Identify improvements, make suggestions or put together proposals on how these can be improved, give it to your boss
  • Reinforce the decisions of others, assertion by proxy is still assertion. Agree with the decisions you believe in
  • Master your position and be the authority of your own role and of others, assert your knowledge

When paying for goods and services.

Consumers rightly feel entitled when exchanging goods or services for cash, it’s one of the luxuries we receive in being able to afford something. We’ve worked for it, we can afford it, therefor we deserve it. So when a service is performed poorly or in a dis satisfactory manner, you might assert yourself in expressing your opinion or your disappointment.

Ways you can assert yourself here:

  • When establishing a cost, assert your decision not to exceed your budget
  • If things don’t go to plan, insist that the matter is rectified before agreeing to make payment
  • Know your rights, don’t be a walkover. Knowing my rights and speaking up got me a brand new laptop.

At home.

Families often see power struggles. Much like a wolf pack, there is a leader, the alpha or ‘top dog’. The top dog asserts itself from the outset, becomes next in line or earns its position gradually or suddenly where there is confrontation. But we’re not dogs and we’re not wolves, we aren’t lions and we aren’t Gorillas, are we? Behaviorally we aren’t so dissimilar, actually, especially in the case of leadership and hierarchy.

Ways you can assert yourself here:

  • Making important financial decisions
  • Influence or determine the actions of others, setting house rules

Note that there should be no confusion between asserting yourself and controlling others.

Remember, associated with the word assertive are the words aggression, assaultive, forceful, not allowing refusal. Not traits you really want to bring to the forefront of your personality. Not traits you’d want to otherwise place any kind of emphasis on either. One word we can’t associate with it is friendly, it’s important to be mindful of that. Assertive behaviour, just like the words closely associated with it can very much change and set moods in your environment. In their extreme forms these behavioural traits can shock and upset others, also it can lead to confrontation. We’ll call this the ugly side of assertion.

Adopt through repetition

Adopting your assertive behavioural trait will come with time and implementing subtle changes in your life. Your thought process will change, it’s necessary. As you consciously decide to assert yourself in different situations more and more, through repeat behaviour your subconscious will adopt the trigger and apply it to everyday situations.

Because of the ugly side of assertion and the potential consequences of this behaviour it’s important that you’re conscious of your level of assertion, that it’s being applied in the right set of circumstances and to gauge the response of others. After all, if you’re only now learning to be assertive, how else will you know how much is too much? Regulate yourself, it’s a behaviour not a lifestyle 🙂

To be assertive is to display a behavioural trait

I’d say that if you’ve made it this far down the article, you’re aware of some ways you can apply a more assertive attitude to your life.

To be assertive should be to take positive a

ction. Assertive behaviour lets others know that you can make decisions, you can implement and you can do so positively. When you’re assertive you can gain respect, a promotion and you can gain confidence, all of which reinforce your new positive outlook.

Now you can go ahead and learn to be assertive in the real world.

First Assess your environment, is assertive behaviour appropriate here, is it needed?

Acclimatise, new or unfamiliar environments are not good places to assert yourself, on a first day at a new job for example, establish yourself and feel comfortable in your environment.

Conquer, assert yourself. Remember, don’t be a dick. You can be top dog, earn your place and do so in a friendly way.


My guide to positivity and taking the first step to a more positive mindset and a more fulfilling life.

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