There are people who go through life constantly worrying – worrying about how they seem to others, worrying about their personality and lack of confidence, worrying about pretty much anything to do with their ‘image’. And, as we all know, with lack of self-esteem comes lack of control over our emotions… hello overreactions, arguments and anxiety! 

On the other hand, assertive people don’t waffle – they are comfortable in themselves and do not defend or explain their reasoning as they understand by doing so they lose all credibility. They know their rights. They feel worthy, important and deserving. And it shows.

Assertive behaviour

Assertiveness and confidence are not arrogance. Rather, assertive people have an ‘I like you, but I like me too’ approach. They are confident about handling conflict and they are able to give and receive positive and negative feedback. They face the other person, look them in the eye, keep an open mind and demonstrate open body language. They watch their words and use ‘could’ and ‘might’ instead of ‘should’ and ‘must’. 

They feel in control of themselves and feel competent, and they refuse to allow others to manipulate or control them. They always address issues as they arise, and are aware that they are 100% responsible for their own happiness and serenity. They place a high priority on having their rights respected but they also respect the rights of others. They do not strut around with a sense of entitlement and expectations of everyone meeting their needs, nor do they claim responsibility for how others think and feel. 

Assertiveness skills

The power of assertiveness is great. This nurturing and confident way of life has the ability to help you live a calm, steady, 'in control’ life. Taking the time to understand your emotions before you react is an accomplishment that has great wellbeing benefits as it allows you to actually become a more compassionate person towards others as well as to yourself. It’s not about being conceited or condescending, it’s about speaking up for what’s right for you without putting others down in the process. Whether in the office, at home or out with friends, when you are faced with an uncomfortable or unbelievable situation, you have the power to understand it and make adjustments straight away in order to deal with it and move forward positively.

how to be more assertive and confident

Assertiveness exercises: How to build confidence and self esteem

Finding the right kind of emotional and mental exercises that work for you is the first step in developing a confident attitude naturally, and mastering long-term assertiveness. Then, once you understand the difference between how your mind has been working thus far and what can be changed for the better, practice saying these sorts of terms in front of a mirror until you feel really comfortable. Lastly, believe in yourself so that the practice becomes second-nature. The power that practice has is enormous. Here are some assertive communication examples that can help with work issues, relationship woes, friendships and so on:

1. Principal assertion

This kind of assertiveness technique can be very helpful in an office environment. If you lack confidence at work or feel bombarded, overwhelmed and rarely speak up, statements like, “I need to leave by 4pm”; “I need to be reimbursed as soon as possible for this fare”; and “I would like time to think over what you have said in order to deliver a better result” are all great examples to practice. The more you do the easier it will become for you to speak up for yourself and not feel like you’re being taken for granted.

2. Compassionate assertion

Compassionate assertion exercises can be useful within relationships or friendships. They help for you to become more concrete, clear and succinct with your thoughts and feelings, rather than blowing up into a huge argument with both sides feeling hurt and the topic at hand being totally lost. For example, if you’re having difficulty with your partner about something to do with your relationship, practice saying statements like, “I appreciate you don’t like the boundaries I’ve put in place, but while we are dating I would appreciate it if you could respect them.”

3. Incongruity assertion

This technique is nurturing in the sense that no matter which environment you’re in where you’re faced with a dilemma, the practice can help you to avoid long-term stress, anxiety and panic, and rather will naturally teach you to be clear in your responses to move forward as best as possible. For example, statements like, “As I understand it, we agreed that X was top priority, and now you are asking me to give top priority to Y. Therefore, I need to have clarity about what is now the top priority”; or, “On the one hand you say you want to improve communication between us, yet you come out with disrespectful remarks, which makes it difficult for me to believe that.” This way when unwelcome surprises come up at work or at home, you can breathe through it and understand that you can be clear in your response so that you are content with yourself. This is a surefire way to nurture your self-esteem and confidence.

4. Adverse assertion

"When you leave it so late to produce this report it means I end up going without a lunch break. I feel this is unfair and therefore would appreciate it if I could receive it earlier." This is a great example of an assertiveness exercise that is helpful when others give off a harmful sense towards you. When unfavourable situations occur, you can practice being clear with your feelings about them.

5. Consequence assertion

Consequence assertion statements usually come from points of pain and therefore being clear and mindful about them can be a huge benefit to your confidence. For example, “If you continue gambling I will be left with no choice but to leave you”; or, “I am not prepared to be shouted at and spoken over, so I will make a formal complaint if this happens again, although I would prefer it not to get to that.” These show that you are willing to work if the other person agrees to do so as well. You show the compromise and trust they will deliver.

If you feel like your self-esteem and confidence need to be nurtured and developed so you can stop feeling like a constant worrier, practice is key. Mastering assertiveness is a process that can be extremely helpful in your journey so make sure to try these techniques and exercises to guide you. Good luck.

READ NEXT: Tried and tested remedies and products to help you boost confidence.

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