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Top Ten Ways to be Appropriately Assertive

Today’s post is inspired by the recent presidential debates we have endured on television. In my opinion, neither the presidential nor vice presidential candidates receive exemplary marks for their behaviors.  And while I give props to one moderator, the other could step up his game.

This is not a political blast, but rather a simple top ten list on methods for being appropriately assertive. While most of us will never be in the position to showcase our assertiveness on national television, the following are good tips for day-to-day interactions.

The balance between being arrogant, aggressive or offensive and being timid or submissive is found in confidence. When you are confident enough to assert your personal rights, while being respectful of others’ rights, you have found your appropriately assertive voice.

Top Ten Ways to be Appropriately Assertive

1.   Politely, but directly, state your position.

Your position, point of view, feelings, values, and beliefs are important and deserve to be expressed. At times, your opinions will be better received if you clarify they are your opinions and you accept there are other valid opinions, too.

2.  Know what you want.

Are you expressing your position simply to be argumentative? Do you intend to change another person’s opinion? Are you defending a character attack?

There is a proper time and place to defend your position, but sometimes you can simply go with the flow, while still honoring your position.  I always ask, “Is it more important to be right or to be happy in this situation?”

3.  Clarify your boundaries when dealing with others.

Be your own internal moderator. Be clear what the limits are and if you stay within those, it is easier for others to also adhere to them.

4.  Know the the difference between being assertive vs. being aggressive or arrogant.

Stating your position clearly, with backup information if necessary, is being assertive. Belittling or mocking another’s position, defensive posturing, or yelling are aggressive and arrogant traits.  You may have a deep passion for your position, but letting that spill over only undermines your assertive confidence.

5.   Avoid being meek or timid.

Aggressive and arrogant behavior tramples the rights of others. Being overly timid sacrifices your own rights. Stand tall in your conviction and don’t let others bully or steamroll you.

6.  Know thyself.

Develop your opinions, beliefs, and values and stand by them. Be willing to confidently say yes or no and uphold your answers. Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know or maybe if you need more information.

Teach people that when you say yes, it means yes; when you say no, it means no; and when you say maybe, you’re thinking it over. I taught my kids this early on and avoided many, many battles! When people know what to expect from you, they respect you.

7.  Avoid pettiness and arrogance.

While these traits may seem to be annoying personality traits, they are really an effort to exert dominance over another and are expressed to undermine another’s individuality. Eye rolling, smirking, head shaking and other behaviors are indicating, “I don’t respect you or your opinion.”

Recognize that each individual has his or her position based on their own perspective. Honoring that different perspectives exist goes a long way to clear communication between parties.

8.  When your opinion or perspective is in question, clarify.

Educate others on your viewpoint. How did you come to this position? What facts do they not know? Why is your perspective or opinion important to you? If self-disclosure and/or sharing relevant information is necessary, give yourself permission to state your case.

9.  Exercise your assertive muscles.

Develop self-confidence, and positive self-esteem; know your likes and dislikes; identify your values and boundaries; and affirm your good qualities and strengths.

If you’re too timid, start small. Have an opinion in minor decisions such as where to eat, what route to drive, what movie to see. Build your assertive muscles by stating your opinion on the quality of service you received. Little by little, you’ll know yourself better and feel more confident in expressing your opinions.

If you’re too aggressive, work on developing other muscles, like listening and acceptance and you will build your assertive muscles in a more refined way.

10. Be accountable.

Yep, you’ve heard this one before…take responsibility for yourself! Learn to hold an opinion or position without excuses. Don’t be codependent and allow someone else to form your opinions. Don’t dominate quieter types. Respect yourself and others, and require they respect you.

As usual, I went on far longer than intended–thanks for sticking with me!

Have a great day, my friend!


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