Speaking your mind can be a risky job. At some point or the other, we have all thought that it is better to remain quiet than to say something which we truly feel. One of the risks when you express yourself is you always run the risk of meeting people who do not necessarily agree with your viewpoint. Rather than learning how to express your opinions and defending them if the need arises, many of us choose to remain silent because it feels safer.
While staying silent can be an excellent strategy for not inviting trouble, it has a flip side as well. The fact that you decide not to speak up gives other people the impression that you are okay with everything. They think you are okay with not being treated nicely, you are okay with working overtime which is never compensated for later in any way, you are okay with doing everyone else’s share of work and not getting any sort of recognition whatsoever for it, you are always available and always willing to help. While always being willing to lend a helping hand is indeed an admirable quality, it can also be an open invitation for people to walk all over you.
So how do you stop people from treating you like a doormat? By becoming more assertive. But what is assertive behavior really? Assertiveness refers to the sort of behavior which allows you to stand up for yourself when you feel like your rights are being compromised in a calm and collected manner. This calm and collectedness are they key elements of assertiveness.
Most of us confuse being assertive with being aggressive. In reality, these are two entirely different states and are comprised of very different tactics or actions as well.
When you or someone you know comes across as overbearing, dominant, sarcastic, rude, and in some extreme cases, even resorting to violence, those are actions being demonstrated by a very aggressive person. This person doesn’t know what assertive behavior is or doesn’t care.
A truly assertive person can tell others what she or he wants, explain himself or herself honestly and calmly. He or she realizes that while others are important, so is he or she. While most people make the mistake of assuming an aggressive person is a strong person, it is actually the assertive person who has more inner strength. Being able to say no to others when you feel you are being taken advantage of, without having to explain yourself or without resorting to aggression, is where true strength is demonstrated.
Self-respect and confidence are two very important prerequisites of assertive behavior. You need to have self-respect in order to realize it is time to put your foot down and take things in your hands for a change. However, just having self-respect will not get you that far without the confidence to actually put yourself out there. I am referring to stating your belief about what is wrong and ways to make it right.
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