How To Be Assertive Without Offending People
Do you struggle with being assertive?
Are you someone who just wants to be nice all the time?
We talk all the time about “putting yourself out there” and “asking for what you want” in a #JustDoIt kind of way.
But Sometimes Our Fear Holds Us Back.
- Fear that we will come across as ‘aggressive’
- Fear that we will hurt the other person’s feelings
- Fear of another person’s anger or disapproval
- Guilt about placing our needs first
- Discomfort with asking others to see our preferences as important
- Fear of appearing to be ‘selfish’
- Fear of being rejected or disliked
- Insecurity in our ability to make good decisions
- The perception that assertiveness is personality trait rather than a skill we learn (“But I’m just not an assertive person!”)
The problem with such beliefs is that they wear down our self-esteem and over time affect negatively our happiness, our chances for success, and even our physical health.
These beliefs result in a vicious cycle.
When we repeatedly compromise our needs, we hold ourselves back from practicing and improving our assertiveness skills.
This in turn means we don’t experience the positive impact of assertiveness and healthier boundaries.
Assertiveness Is An Important Skill To Develop.
Assertiveness allows you to advocate for yourself and your needs in a healthy way.
Sometimes it’s difficult to be assertive, or make your beliefs known, while still maintaining peace and understanding.
Some people interpret assertiveness as hostility or rudeness.
Or they might even think that you’re being controlling.
This is most likely because generally, people don’t like to be told what to do or how to do it.
The trick is in learning how to stand up for yourself without making others feel imposed upon.
Like anything, this is a skill you can develop with a little know-how and practice.
Many factors can go into how assertiveness is interpreted or received.
Let’s take a look at ways to advocate for yourself in an effective manner.
What Is Assertiveness?
Assertiveness is an interpersonal skill.
It demonstrates your confidence and allows you to advocate for your needs, desires and boundaries while being respectful towards others.
You are taking care of yourself by looking out for yourself.
Steps To Being Assertive.
- Ask for you want or need respectfully
- It is OK to say “No”
- Speak your mind
- Remember that you are not responsible for the other party’s response
- You have a right to your feelings
- Use “I” statements when speaking
- Don’t apologize for your feelings or needs.
You can definitely be assertive without being rude.
Tact is a thing. So is delivery.
How you advocate for your needs can make a difference in how it is received.
You can be assertive without being aggressive or impolite.
Choose your words carefully.
This is especially important if you’re going to assert yourself in situations where you were previously passive.
Think about the different ways that your words might be interpreted.
Write them down and read them back to yourself if that helps.
Using “I” statements to convey your needs helps prevent the person you are speaking to understand that you are stating your needs, and not placing blame.
Sometimes people may take assertiveness as rudeness when it is not.
This is not your responsibility.
Stay calm, keep it positive and constructive, but speak your needs.
Develop Good Listening Skills.
Being assertive takes some great communication skills.
Remember that communication has two sides – speaking and listening.
Truly listening will help you clearly understand the situation at hand.
When you follow up with thoughtful and assertive speech, others are more likely to value your opinion.
Avoid Taking Things Personally.
Since being assertive can be touchy, sometimes you’ll do everything right and still end up rubbing someone the wrong way.
Learn how to brush off comments that don’t matter.
Practice, Practice, Practice.
Assertiveness comes easy for some and is an anxiety-inducing challenge for others.
The thing is, the more you do it the easier it gets.
If being assertive doesn’t come naturally for you start small.
Practice stating your opinions in lower fidelity situations first.
Gain confidence as you go.
Don’t apologize for stating your wants and needs.
Know your boundaries and beliefs on bigger issues and be ready to peacefully and proactively advocate for your needs.
People enjoy being led by people who ooze confidence.
If you’re going to be assertive and take charge, show the confidence to back it up.
People will sense your lack of confidence if it isn’t truly there, so give yourself permission to feel good about yourself and your accomplishments.
Handle Negative Issues Quickly.
If problems arise, jump on them immediately.
It’s a part of being assertive.
Handle issues with kindness and respect and people will remember you for it.
If you let problems linger or treat them in a negative manner, people will remember that too.
- Placing blame
- Sharing your wants and needs in a confrontational or aggressive manner
- Yelling or shouting
- Being unwilling to hear the other person out
You’ve Got This!
Do your best to stay calm and be diplomatic.
Also, understand that you can’t force someone to respect your assertive requests and behavior.
You know what is best for you and only you can decide what to do if your requests are not honored.
Stay true to your integrity and values.
Remember that the skill of assertiveness is something that develops over time.
It may be overwhelming to try to make drastic changes overnight.
Ease yourself into it and test the waters.
It’s always best to think with clarity and make your changes slowly.
With a gradual change, others will be more likely to accept your new assertiveness.
Before you know it, you’ll have their respect for the new, improved you!
Now I’d Love To Hear From You.
Are you good at being assertive, or is this something you struggle with?
What kinds of things help you to be more assertive?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
I would love to hear your stories.
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