By Madeline Vann, MPH
Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH Print Email Coulda, woulda, shoulda: these are the worst words you can think of when you walk away from a confrontation without speaking up for yourself. Your friends, family, or even your co-workers may tell you that you need to be more assertive, stand up for yourself. But how do you go about developing assertiveness?
Help you communicate better Give you confidence Help you make decisions Increase other people’s respect for you Help you stay true to your beliefs and goals. .
Zeidman says that if you are dissatisfied with the personal and professional outcomes in your life, you may need to be more assertive.
Tips for Being Assertive
If you want to take a trial run at assertiveness, try these tips the next time you are in a situation where you need to be honest about your feelings or needs:
Know what outcome you want to achieve Pick a moment when you are emotionally in control Practice what you want to say Sit or stand comfortably where you can look directly at the person to whom you are speaking Use statements beginning with “I” to explain your feelings about the situation. For example, instead of saying, “You never check with me before making plans” say “I feel ignored when you make plans without consulting me first.” Be direct and honest about your feelings, goals, and intentions Say no to unreasonable demands and offer an explanation if it is appropriate. There is no need to apologize or offer excuses. Zeidman recommends an approach that focuses on stating the impact of another person's behaviors.
“If you’re always aware of what is the impact of this situation on us, me, you, the organization, the family, then people start to see you and the communication quite differently,” she says. Sit down with the person in question and then give them an example of the behavior that is problematic for you, and then describe the impact on you. “After you [explain] the impact of what’s happening, you ask them to make a change with you. How can we change this? How can we make this better?” suggests Zeidman. This approach makes the people in your life partners in improving the situation.
Assertiveness won’t guarantee that you get everything you want every time. But you will feel more in control and less stressed over the situations that used to cause you problems.
We all could learn to "SAY WHAT WE MEAN, AND MEAN WHAT WE SAY"!
Learn more in Everyday Health's Emotional Health Center.