As a natural observer of human behavior I admit it, I monitor patterns. By patterns I mean strategic use of style that brings direct and indirect effects. What I often see is a variable amount of assertiveness that individuals use. Some have it and use it effectively; some don’t have the same sense of comfort with it. This exists among men and women, but often more so with women. The effects of a short stick of assertiveness often leads to a longer duration of time it takes to achieve what they want or a forfeiture of it all together. This isn’t necessarily the lost in life we are given; assertiveness can be improved by easing it into our comfort zone. The biggest benefit of being assertive is feeling better about yourself and the effects it has on your confidence. Being assertive does not mean divorcing yourself from your self image if you learn ways to manage yourself and others.
Let me illustrate. Say you are involved in a discussion with someone who is overly assertive and is seeking to gain advantage over you. There are strategies you can exercise to improve the outcomes for you.
Broken Record – Calm repetition of your statement until answered is a way to remain focused on your goal without losing your composure. Leave a question unanswered to keep the conversation on topic.
Fogging – Deny the critic from getting a rise out of you. This entails denying criticism of the critic’s opinion, not facts without being defensive. This strategy teaches you to really listen instead of reading minds and drawing false judgments.
Negative Inquiry – Start digging to uncover the potential agenda of an accuser. Making the statement, “There must be another reason behind your complaint” can break the cycle of manipulation.
Free information – Follow up on clues people offer about themselves and give information about yourself. This makes it less easy for others to actively manipulate.
Becoming more assertive does not require a change in personality. It does require a suspension of belief that you can’t do it. Without a doubt, it takes practice to build the assertiveness muscle, but it can be done without putting yourself esteem at risk.