If you, like many others, have no clue how to put your foot down without being rude, don't stress because you can become assertive.
Assertiveness is the key to good communication.
Most problems in relationships and low self-esteem or confidence are caused by bad communication skills. Therefore, it's important to communicate correctly to get what you want.
There are four different communication styles: aggressive, passive, passive-aggressive and assertive, which can be broken down as follows.
Aggressive: People who communicate in an aggressive way will shout, threaten and blame others, but no one really listens to them. You could probably point out a few culprits in the office without much effort! What then happens is that as soon as we're blamed or attacked, we build a 'wall' around us, don't listen anymore and try to counter-attack.
Passive: Those who have a passive communication style tend to feel that others take advantage of them. Passive people are scared to say what they think or often don't even know what they want; hence others might use or manipulate them.
Passive-aggressive: If you're passive-aggressive, you also don't say what you really want or think, but rather make cynical remarks or talk in a sarcastic, negative way. Those remarks often have nothing to do with the actual cause of your feeling upset.
Assertive: You communicate to achieve a certain outcome in a way that is respectful of ourselves and others.
So let's get to work and look at how you can become more assertive.
1. The mental picture: Before an important conversation, think about your desired outcome. What do you want to achieve? Know what you want.
2. Mean it: When you say 'no', don't make it sound like a 'maybe'. Say 'no' and mean 'no'.
3. Body talk: Remember, your body language has to match your verbal language. Don't say 'no' but have a smile on your face and sound as if you can be convinced otherwise.
4. Be your own taskmaster: Challenge your own irrational thoughts and negative feelings. Why do you feel guilty to say 'no'? Why do you keep on thinking, "I should have... " or "I could have... "? Concentrate on the positives.
5. Be simple: Be clear and to the point. Take responsibility for getting your message across and make sure your message is understood the way you intended it.
6. Deep breaths: Try not to be hasty when making decisions or committing to something. You can always say, "I will come back to you on that one."
7. Avoid the blame game: Don't blame others and avoid the 'you' word, "You did this... " or "You are wrong... ". Rather use statements like, "I feel... " or "I get the impression that... ".
8. Take your head out of the sand: Sometimes we cannot agree on one thing. Be prepared to negotiate a compromise that suits both parties. Make sure you don't sacrifice your rights.
9. Believe: Believe that you are worthy, that you have rights and that you matter.
It pays to be assertive. It gives you a confidence boost, improves your self-esteem, allows you to give and receive compliments and criticism, reduces stress and let's you establish healthy relationships and take responsibility for your emotions. It takes practice to become more assertive. Try it out first with friends and others who are easy to talk to. Remember, small successes will strengthen your new communication style. The more you practice, the more it will become a part of you.
Always remind yourself that you deserve to get what you want by respecting yourself and others.