Assertiveness - Top 10 Tips

Assertiveness Hints and Tips

When you aren’t feeling particularly assertive, it’s best to try something simple that you’ll remember, rather than trying to become a completely different person (which won’t work anyway!)

1. Don't Smile

When you’re making a serious point, don’t smile.

Smiling gives a mixed message and weakens the impact of what you’re saying.

A smile is an invitation that if they push you hard enough you will say “yes”.

2. Keep it Short and Sweet

Gabbling makes you sound like a pushover.

Use short, punchy sentences to make your point and be aware of the impulse to give in when the pressure gets intense.

This means planning what you’re going to say before you open your mouth.

3. Speak in a Firm Voice

Mumbling, padding, waffling all give the impression you don’t really mean what you say.

You don’t have to be loud but your voice needs to be strong.

When you speak firmly, your body language will follow suit.

4. Zip the Lip

Once you’ve made your point, keep quiet and let the power of the pause do its magic.

Lots of people leap to fill the quiet gap; let the other person feel uncomfortable with silence for a change.

5. Buy Time

Make a list of handy excuses to get yourself out of difficult situations even for just a few minutes so you can create breathing space and think more clearly before you return to the fray.

6. Pre-empt

As soon as you get a sniff that you’re going to be asked to do something you don’t want to do, avoid the inevitable by jumping in before you are asked so you can set clear boundaries and move on to Number 7 below….

7. Offer Lots of Solutions

Instead of trying to make excuses, offer a variety of options that don’t include you.

You can suggest a ‘man – or woman – who can…’.

You’ll come across as helpful and considerate without sounding bolshie.

8. Level

It’s preferable to ‘tell it like it is’ than to end up saying yes and resenting it.

This is a way to let other people know the impact of their behaviour on you and just what you’re able to suggest as an alternative to what they want.

9. Give Them the Good News

Decide what you’re willing to do and make an offer

“What I can do for you is…”.

This way you aren’t apologising for what you can’t do (or don’t want to do) and are putting a positive spin on what you can.

10. Slow the Situation Down

Take charge of the conversation to avoid getting browbeaten.

Set the agenda rather than giving in to what the other person wants.

Ask for clarification, reflect back, summarise – all small ways to give yourself time to think and respond rather than feeling pressured and rushed into a ‘yes’ you don’t mean.

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