When many of us hear the word “assertiveness” we associate it with rudeness, or even self-centeredness. However, there is much more to it. Assertiveness is:
- the ability to stand up for yourself.
- the willingness to adapt life to your preferences.
- the tact to express your opinions.
- the strength to go after your goals to live life on your own terms.
Assertiveness is the opposite of aggression.
While aggression is a way of working against others in demanding your own way, assertiveness is a way of working with others by being forthright about what you need, knowing that you may not necessarily get it.
Learning graceful assertiveness is vital in developing an unbound lifestyle if you want to live life according to your designs.
Graceful assertiveness helps you to:
- value yourself as a person and your rights, thoughts, needs and desires.
- identify your desires and ask for them to be met.
- insist that your rights as an equal, significant person be respected.
- express positive and negative emotions.
- question tradition and authority, and assert your fair share of control over a situation.
- be comfortable with initiating and terminating conversations.
- deal with irritations in a healthy manner while preventing aggression and intense resentment from building up.
You need to be assertive in making the decision to start your own business (stepping out of your comfort zone) and running a meaningful experience. In your own business, you will encounter many opportunities to practice what graceful assertiveness means for you:
Going After Contracts: You will have to assert yourself as a worthy competitor.
Setting Your Price: You will have to value yourself enough to charge a rate that will sustain you financially while at the same time being competitive.
Dealing With Clients: No matter how good your business, you will, at some point, deal with difficult customers. You will have to know when to draw the line.
Growing Your Business: Sometimes, you will have to make major decisions that will require assertiveness. Changing your business strategy, introducing different methods, systems, products and services…
All of this will require some degree of assertiveness.
How to Practice Graceful Assertiveness
There are many different ways in which you can become more assertive. Here are some of the best ways I have found:
1. Be aware of your needs, desires, and values
You are just as important as everyone else, but not more important than someone else. You can live life on your terms, provided you treat other people with dignity and respect, and you don’t need to apologize for everything all the time.
2. Be Proactive
You have the right to ask for your needs to be satisfied. In order to reach your full potential, you have to have your needs met. Unless you ask, nobody will know what your needs are, and you will have to wait forever for them to meet them. Therefore, find ways, or ask for your needs to be met (without sacrificing other people’s needs in the process).
3. Express Yourself
Find ways to express negative feelings in a respectful manner. It is important to express how you feel in a controlled way that protects other people’s feelings at the same time. You must stand up for you and confront those who challenge you as a person, or who don’t show respect toward you.
4. Accept Feedback
Be gracious when you receive compliments. Use feedback as a stepping stone to improve yourself, even if you don’t agree with it. Getting angry or defensive will not help you. Remember, everyone is allowed to make mistakes. Learn from the feedback and your mistakes. You can always ask for help if you don’t know what to do.
5. Allow Yourself to Say “No”
Learning to say no is the number one key to assertiveness. You must know your limits and you have to accept that you can’t be and do everything for everyone all the time. You have to do what’s right for you. If you feel that you are being short-changed, you have to put a stop to it. You can always suggest a win-win alternative.
Becoming assertive is a liberating feeling without which you really can’t live a fulfilling live. When you become assertive, you can exercise an unbound existence, free from the demands that life sometimes places on us.