The very first thing you need to do if you want to be more assertive in your communications is to understand what assertive is and what it isn’t. Being assertive does not mean that you are aggressive. You don’t have to be rude to be assertive. In short, assertiveness simply means that you stand up for yourself, speak up at the time that it’s needed, and respect the rights of others.
Prepare and Practice
Whenever you want to be better at something, the best thing you can do is overprepare and practice. You can start by doing assertive things in a small way, such as practicing saying no. But you can also use visualization to practice so that when you find yourself in specific situations, you can fall back on the way you visualized it.
Find a Few Seconds of Courage
You don’t really need to be brave for very long to speak up for yourself. In contrast, you simply need a few seconds of courage to stand up and say what you wanted to say calmly, clearly, and directly.
Choose Your Communication Channel Wisely
When you have something to say that is important to you think about your audience. What is the best way for them to receive the information from you? Is it best heard in person or best in a letter or an email? How about a text? Remember, it’s important to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it before doing it.
Act Confident Even When You’re Not
Your granny likely told you to “fake it until you make it” and there is a lot of goodness and truth in that advice. However, don’t think that you’re being dishonest when you act confident, even if you don’t fully feel it right away. Most people aren’t really going to know you’re nervous. Just speak up anyway. The more you do it, the more it’ll feel natural.
Speak Slowly and Remember to Breathe
When you do finally speak up at the right time, take a deep breath, and say what you need to say slowly and clearly. It isn’t a race! Speaking fast might make you trip over your words and cause miscommunication, which would create additional issues.
Make Eye Contact with People
A lot of people have issues with eye contact, but they are completely honest people. Eye contact is a must in order to convey honesty and be assertive. Even if you have an issue with it, understand that most people in the USA, at least find it off-putting if you don’t make eye contact. But remember, you don’t have to make eye contact all the time, just part of the time. You won’t win a ribbon for a staring contest.
Know That Saying No is Okay
Learning to say no is part of being assertive. If you’re a people pleaser, it’s easy to get into the habit of always saying yes and being that quiet person that everyone counts on. Try saying no to some of the things you don’t want to do, or really don’t have time to do, as practice.
Learn to Make “I” Statements
When you speak, since it’s not an academic paper, use “I” statements. I think, and I feel are the ways you can express yourself to others in a way that makes them hear you. Because what you think, and feel is important.
If your issue is genuinely shyness, or about being an introvert, practicing will help you become more assertive. However, if you think you have deeper difficulties with this, please schedule a free session with me to help you find your break through moment. I also highly recommend Toastmasters as a practice ground for communication and leadership skills.