Developing assertiveness is probably a lot easier than you think because what people usually mean by wanting to be more assertive is: “How can I become more able to resist the pressure and dominance of excessively dominant people?”, “How can I stand up to bullies (or one bully in particular)?” or, “How can I exert a little more control in situations that are important to me?”
Most people are not naturally assertive, they tend to be passive by nature. The assertive behaviour of very dominant people tends to be driven by their personality and often some insecurity. Pure assertiveness is actually quite rare and it is more normal to be non-assertive. It’s important that non-assertive people understand where they really are – a true starting point: non-assertive behaviour is usually a sign of strength, not weakness, and often it is the most appropriate behaviour for most situations.
But what about times when more assertiveness is required? It is necessary to understand what level of assertiveness you want. Is it to defend yourself, to control your own choices or maybe to be determined in the face of strong pressure?
For people who are not naturally assertive, it is possible to achieve a perfectly suitable level of assertiveness by using specific techniques, rather than trying to adopt a generally more assertive personal style (which could be counter-productive because it would not be natural). People seeking to be more assertive can dramatically increase their effective influence and strength by using some simple techniques prior to, or when confronted by a more dominant character and even prior to and whilst dealing with a situation in which they would like to exert more control.
Here are some simple techniques and methods for developing more assertive behaviour.
- Re-condition and practice your own new reactions to aggression. Have a clear mental picture of how you want to react instead and surround yourself with positive reminders about how you want to think, feel and behave when reacting to dominating people and situations.
- Anticipate and be ready for other people’s behaviour and prepare your responses.
- Prepare and use good open questions.
- Know the facts relating to the situation and have the details on hand.
- Have faith that your own abilities and style. They will ultimately work if you let them.
- Feel sympathy for bullies – they actually need it!