Have you ever felt that you have been left behind by your friends or don’t consider your opinion important during the discussion? Sometimes even family members don’t consider your views even for trivial things. I have faced that too. Over time I didn’t let those matters come to me but I was hurt when my views were not important. Speaking up about your opinion and views are important but how you deliver them and how you make others understand your opinion is also important. In life, you will face 3 kinds of people. They may be your relatives or friends or colleagues. You only represent yourself when you are interacting with someone. Your ideas and belief make you. There is nothing to be ashamed of if anyone disagrees with you. People have different beliefs as they come from different cultures, what they are taught, what they see and understand, will be very different from your personal views.
The 3 kinds of people that are discussed are Passive, Assertive, and Aggressive. You can simply understand by the example I am giving below. These 3 examples will let you understand which one are you. Now the names are purely fictional, its just random names that is taken, please don’t take personally!
1. Stephany is a shy reserved girl. She visits her friends when she is told, even if she’s busy. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone. She just goes along with anything and has a lot of work pending. During meets, she doesn’t say anything when asked and likes to spend her time alone. Other than a smile on her face, she doesn’t express anything. Stephany is “Passive”.
2. Claire is a happy-go-lucky outgoing girl. She gets along and knows when to talk and express herself. Others always consider her opinion or at least ask for help. She completes her work on time with valuable information and is getting another top position. She always speaks very comfortably and openly to her friends, always participates in group activities, makes people familiar with her views and opinion but also welcomes criticism. Claire is “Assertive”.
3. Karen is a hostile and badass girl. She is outgoing but is pushy. She demands a lot from her friends and gets her work done. She knows her way around people and would do anything to get her needs fulfilled. Her opinions are different from the majority, she doesn’t like it when she is “assigned” rather she works which is more comfortable. She hurts a lot of her friends when she doesn’t care about their opinions. She speaks very loudly to make her look dominating. She lost a lot of friends due to her “Aggressive” behavior.
How can you be Assertive?
Being Assertive is all about how you represent yourself. You don’t want to be passive or aggressive when you speak up. People with a good sense of humor are welcomed at functions and trips because they get along with everyone. So how will you achieve that? Being assertive doesn’t mean you have to always respond to everything or get everything done. Remember you need space and a break from daily routines. Here are some tips that you can practice to achieve assertiveness.
Understand what you are. Are you passive or aggressive? Both are different and need different practices. If you are more inclined towards passive behavior, you have problems speaking up. You need to see your worth and make others see it. Practice in front of the mirror, talk about anything, write your thoughts and make a flow so that it is sensible. If you are more inclined towards aggressive behavior, learn what makes you trigger to be aggressive. Is it a person or an opinion? Express yourself precisely. You can do this when you practice staying calm in different situations.
Maintain eye contact when talking to someone. The moment you start maintaining eye contact and your posture, you give the message that you are listening and want to hear more. Practice assertive body language when you want to be listened to. People you work with are important and so their viewpoint. But they also need to understand what you are thinking. Sit/ Stand straight, don’t slouch, maintain your stance and look straight in their eyes. Avoid checking your smartphones every minute. It causes frustration. Excuse yourself if you want to attend a call but don’t make them wait. Always speak in a clear, firm voice.
When you start talking, you wait for feedback. Make sure you understand what they have perceived from you. Don’t hurry up and decide on one opinion. Ask if there’s any other alternative. Simple and clear language is important. You say what you want rather than using sentences like “I maybe want to do this”. It gives a clear message to others. If you disagree, state it correctly and confidently with facts like “I understand your points, but I disagree as (reasons)”.
If you have been saying yes to everything, it’s time to say no and start giving priority to yourself first. People take you for granted when you make yourself available every time or when you instantly message when they ping you. Unless it is important, make yourself a priority. You don’t have to message that person back because he/she is asking you to do their work. That is not right. Practice saying NO when you have loads of works. Start giving attention to what matters first and it will become your habit. Now just to be clear, if a person really wants to talk about their issues or need your support, be there for them. Maybe they will appreciate your efforts.
Advantages of being assertive
Creating New You: You start speaking for yourself and earn respect from your co-workers and friends. If you have new thoughts, ideas, people will come up to you. World leaders are those who have new ways of improving things. People who slouch or hide from the world, aren’t considered ideal candidates.
Make your Worth: When you start being assertive, you make yourself worth every day. You start making priority which matters to you and remove what doesn’t need your attention. You start expressing yourself and make others understand what you want. Either they will walk with you or lose you.
Inspiring Others: Others look at you and your confidence level. Don’t be afraid when someone asks how you have this much confidence. They are inspired by you. So many people are inspired by celebrities or a popular public figure because they know how to uplift and present in front of others. Think of this as an achievement when others look up to you.
Problem Solver: Assertive behavior makes you involved in a crisis and you make it solve. You get into details of the problems and start having many possible solutions. You always look towards the prevention of obstruction.
Drawbacks of being assertive
Disagreements: You face people who constantly disagree with your viewpoints and hate your guts. It happens a lot, but they are different from you. Like I said, you work on yourself and make it a priority.
Losing others: Some people will walk with you while others leave you because of their reasons. You can just make peace and move on.
Glares for speaking up: In a country like India, many people still consider speaking up against wrong will invite threats. But those who speak up against wrong, definitely are gazed at by the public.