To be assertive in life means having self-confidence and understanding who you are well enough to be able to communicate it. If you don’t know yourself, you can’t identify how you feel, what you need, or where you need to grow. Assertiveness can be constructive or destructive in working with others.

A life coach can help you discover who you are so you know how to communicate your needs and feelings in a respectful way. Read on to learn tips on how you can be assertive the right way.

1. Choose to Act

Instead of sitting and letting others act, make the choice to take action. Don’t just passively observe. Be a part of what is going on by doing it.

2. Communicate with Respect

Don’t sit by when something needs to be said. Speak up, but do so with respect. Don’t be accusatory or aggressive. Aim for constructive comments that build people up or help them.

3. Listen Actively

Communication is a two-way street. Let people speak, listening to what they are saying. Don’t interrupt them, don’t ignore them, and don’t sit there coming up with arguments for each thing they say. You want to be heard when you speak, so give other people the attention you want them to give you.

4. Accept Disagreement

Not everyone will agree, and you need to accept that. You will not always agree with a course of action but, having communicated your viewpoint, you still need to accept the decision. Keep in mind that different perspectives or interpretations are just that: different.

5. Don’t Guilt Trip

Share your feelings on a subject to be heard, not to manipulate. If your goal in sharing is to alter someone’s decision or viewpoint, consider keeping it to yourself until you can do so without an ulterior motive.

6. Remain Level-Headed

Don’t lose your cool. Control your breathing, maintain eye contact, and speak clearly. If you feel your emotions taking over, take a step back, excuse yourself, and return to the conversation later.

7. See Others as Teammates

how to be more assertive at workWhen working with other people who disagree with you, focus on how you can work together toward a common goal. Choose to see them as allies, rather than enemies, and treat them accordingly.

8. Practice Being Assertive

Like everything in life, you need to practice. Take time in front of a mirror to change your speech patterns or just practice talking. Ask a friend to help you practice or to help you in acting decisively.

9. Use “I” Sentences

If you are speaking in terms of how you feel or think, it’s less likely that others will get defensive if you make it clear that you’re not making assumptions about what they think. It’s also a good idea to leave words like “always” or “never” at the door. Speaking in extremes is rarely accurate.

10. Be Patient and Flexible

Give yourself time to change. Don’t expect overnight results, and be ready for mistakes to happen. This is a learning process, so go easy on yourself. Be as prepared to step up and act as you would be to sit back and observe.

Assertiveness takes practice and patience. It takes you outside of your comfort zone. It helps you to communicate your feelings rather than bury them, prevents conflicts, and strengthens relationships.

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