Asserting yourself can feel empowering and freeing without downplaying anyone else’s dignity or damaging your connections.

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1. Prioritize clarity and share with intention

Asserting yourself is the act of making yourself and your positions plain to others. You want to be heard and understood so no one can claim that they didn’t know or understand what you wanted to communicate.

Thus, to positively assert yourself, first commit to speaking up for yourself even if it’s uncomfortable. Then, be thoughtful and clear-minded regarding the purpose of what you want to share. In other words, know what matters to you and clearly state it.

So, listen actively. As you share your needs and boundaries, expect questions or pushback from other parties. That’s OK. Simply listen with respect, hearing them out doesn’t mean you have to abandon your limits.

If unsuccessful, then switch to a form of communication that just emphasizes your own views and needs. Communication with the eyes on “I” statements close the door to discussions and engagement that do not reflect your views.

2. Keep communication succinct and on message

Remember that you are asserting yourself. This means you are expressing yourself, not convincing anyone of anything.

It’s OK to agree to disagree and attach consequences to a relationship that doesn’t honor your needs. The connection may simply not be mutually beneficial.

For relationships that you do wish to maintain, foster communication that keeps attempts to assert yourself as honest and focused on the present. Stay calm, and relaxed, and speak in a neutral tone to connect well.

3. Communicate rather than complain

The most effective way to achieve respect and consideration is to be a problem solver rather than simply lodge complaints. Take a solutions-oriented approach to conflicts or issues you want to address.

Work at seeing people who may have dismissed you before as peers you hope to inform. Then do so, firmly, without whining or animosity.

Try to stick with statements that include phrases like “I think…” or “I feel..” Avoid aggressive language such as “You always…” or “You never…” Make eye contact frequently, but don’t stare them down.

4. Be brave, not a bully

Aggressive behavior can result from attempts to be assertive if you aren’t careful and focused. Again, your goal is to honor yourself and your desire to have your personhood and needs to be respected.

Not to blame, assign guilt trips, indulge heightened emotion, or make anyone do anything they don’t want to.

Assertiveness is respectful of both yourself and the other person. Respect is key for healthy relationships to work. Simply speak up and voice your concerns as needed, whenever you feel compelled to do so. Let others know that you will hear them out as well.

5. Practice

Practice learning how to be more assertive as often as possible. Speaking clearly, adjusting your posture, and strengthening your handshake are small changes you can make to start boosting your presence and sense of control.

Work on your body language in the mirror or with trusted loved ones. Record yourself to see how others view you.

Moreover, you can review past situations and interactions as learning lessons. Don’t beat yourself up; just explore how you might prepare for similar situations going forward.

Being assertive is a skill that requires time and repetition to become comfortable. Stick with it and, in time, you’ll gain more confidence.

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