How to reclaim Your Assertiveness and Self-Confidence
Assertiveness and Self-Confidence go hand in hand so if you’re interested you will find the methods and techniques shown here will help you
“The basic difference between being assertive and being aggressive is how our words and behaviour affect the rights and well being of others. “
Sharon Anthony Bower – Author
Self-confidence is essential if you’re to become assertive, and being assertive is important for your well-being. These two things go hand-in-hand.
Self-confidence is a concept we all understand, but I think we need to clarify what we mean by assertiveness, and this is easier done by clarifying what it doesn’t mean.
It doesn’t mean the same as being aggressive! People with aggressive behaviour bully, attack, dominate, are forceful and hostile.
In fact, assertive people know how to ensure that aggressive people don’t manipulate them into situations they don’t like. They take control over their own lives instead of allowing other people to determine what they do. But they still show respect for the other person!
Let’s look at some examples and see the methods and techniques that are employed:
1. A group of friends is planning a trip and, as usual, Joe is nominated to do the organising because he’s “so good at it!” Joe isn’t happy about this as for the past 4 years he’s done all the work, worried about the arrangements all the time while on the trip and felt responsible if any little thing went wrong.
He resents the fact that he doesn’t get to enjoy himself like the others do so he certainly has the motivation to change it. This time Joe says – “Actually, I’d prefer not to do it this time, but I’m happy to provide all the information to help someone else to do it.”
What Joe has done is to assert himself so that he doesn’t feel put upon yet again and he can enjoy the trip for once. He wasn’t at all aggressive he just made the statement and offered to help the person doing it. Instead of allowing himself to feel used he used both assertiveness and self-confidence and, as a result, he looked after his own well-being
2. Before Mary married she worked in an office and had friends there she went out with once or twice a week. She’s been a stay-at-home mum for 18 years as her husband believes this is where she should be. She’s expected to be at the ‘beck and call’ of her husband and two sons, even when she’s unwell, and feels totally unappreciated. She’s very unhappy and feels that she doesn’t have a life of her own beyond serving her family.
So, one day she says to her husband that she’s planning to get a part-time job, she understands that he may not like this, but she needs to do something for herself before it’s too late and to have some financial independence rather than always having to ask when she wanted new clothes etc.
Again, Mary has been put upon by the expectations of others and has accepted this for many years, but at the expense of her own well-being, self-esteem and happiness.
She may well find that her family were not aware of her feelings since she’d readily accepted the role she’d been given. They may not like the ‘new mum/wife’ they have who isn’t always there to iron their shirts or cook their meal whenever they come home, but they can get used to it!
There are many other different situations in which you may need to assert yourself.
- It could be that you need to take back a faulty item to a shop and you need to be able to stand your ground.
- Perhaps someone always orders for you when you go to a restaurant and you want to make your own mind up what you eat.
- Maybe your parents want you to pursue a particular career but it’s not what you want to do.
- You may have a ‘friend’ or acquaintance who always ridicules you, highlights one of your negative points or puts you down.
Whatever the situation is, these examples show that in order to be assertive, you need self-confidence. In both examples, Joe and Mary demonstrated both assertiveness and self-confidence in standing up to the expectations of others when they didn’t coincide with their wishes.
An assertiveness tip:
Let’s say you’re taking a faulty item back to a shop. The assistant or manager says that they don’t give refunds, only credit slips. You need to acknowledge what they say but stick to the outcome you want, so you may say:
“I appreciate that you normally only give credit slips, but I haven’t changed my mind. This item is faulty and I therefore want my money back!”
Then if/when they say again that they only give credit slips, repeat:
“I appreciate that you normally only give credit slips, but in this instance it contravenes my consumer rights and I therefore want my money back!”
Always acknowledge what’s been said to show you’ve heard and understood, then re-state what you want to happen. (This is often referred to as ‘the broken record technique’.) Do so in a ‘conversational’ voice, not an angry, aggressive or mono-tone one.
If this is a person who ridicules you the conversation may go something like this:
You: “I don’t appreciate your making negative comments/ attempts to ridicule me/ dwelling on things I can’t do well, and I’d like you to stop doing it”.
Other person: “Yes, but you do look stupid when you…..”
You: “That may well be right, but I’d like you to stop pointing it out at every opportunity!
“That may be your opinion, but I’d like you not to share that opinion with others”.
“I’m well aware that I can’t skate/sing/dance and I’m sure others are too, but I’d like you to stop highlighting it.”
This is being assertive, and you’ll note that you should always ensure that you say what you want (or don’t want) the person to do.
Never become aggressive, retaliate by commenting on the other person, get angry or raise your voice. It will be counter-productive.
In developing both your assertiveness and self-confidence you will be learning skills that will help you to become your own person while still respecting other people.