This is the important question right!! You have probably heard of the saying “fake it until you make it”. Well, there is an element of truth to that in that you have to practice being more assertive until it becomes a habit.
As I discussed in my blog about anxiety and communication styles, it is our self-beliefs that dictate how we act in certain situations.
Someone who defaults to an assertive style has the belief: I’m OK, you’re OK
They believe or act as if all the individuals involved are equal, each deserving of respect, and no more entitled than the other to have things done their way.
For someone with anxiety this means you!
You are equally deserving of respect, you are equally entitled to have things done your way and your self-belief has to reflect this.
This can be a challenge in some situations such as when you are new at work, however you can still turn this around in your head and believe that you can contribute by providing a fresh pair of eyes on what are most likely old processes.
Assertiveness is characterised by actions and expressions fit with the words spoken, firm but polite and clear messages, respectful of self and others
Examples of the types of language used are: “That’s a good idea, and how about if we did this too…” or “I can see that, but I’d really like...”
A key way to come across as more assertive is to help support others by validating their point of view and add your suggestions to their ideas, it helps you seem more likeable and helps other people build trust that you are a collaborative person to be around.
Make sure your language is clear and concise, a huge giveaway to me when someone is anxious is they talk a lot, and I mean a lot! Most of it is just waffle with questions that they answer themselves and then get themselves confused with their roundabout chatting.
Not only does the message get lost, it can come across as really rude and self-involved as it doesn’t give other people an opportunity to respond to or even understand what you are saying.
Before you speak make sure you have a clear message in mind and try and say it in a couple of sentences. Once you have put your point across then stop and wait for a response.
Try also to avoid vague language, this is particularly important in work settings. Phrases like “I’ll try” or “I should be able to get that done” don’t really inspire confidence. Try and think carefully about whether you can do it or not and don’t be afraid to say no!
Body language is important here:
Someone who defaults to a passive communication style will demonstrate body language such as:
Someone who defaults to assertive communication will demonstrate body language such as:
Someone who defaults to aggressive communication will display body language such as:
An assertive person therefore is able to demonstrate assertive body language, the key features really are being calm and relaxed whilst coming across to others as welcoming and friendly.
This can be really difficult to do when you aren’t exactly feeling those things so my suggestion would be to pick one aspect of the body language that you know you struggle with and start there. This means that you wont become overwhelmed during a meeting or something trying to remember all of the assertive body language!
As an example one of my bad habits is to cross my arms and I used to do it a lot during meetings (mostly because I found it boring…) so my challenge would be to not cross my arms and keep my arms and shoulders in a more open position.
The way we think has a huge impact on our mental health. If you are looking to overcome your anxiety or just improve your mental health then first you need to know what thoughts are making things worse.
This download gives you a list of the most common ways we think negatively. All you need to do is see which ones you do most.
Also, keep an eye on your emails! I will be sending you a really useful video that goes with this exercise.