- Creating the Assertive Mindset
In my experience, becoming more assertive first requires you to change your mindset. You need to get rid of any limiting or incorrect beliefs that are holding you back from being assertive. Here are a few suggestions to get your mindset in the right place.
- Set boundaries.
The first step in becoming less of a pushover is establishing boundaries. Boundaries are rules and limits that a man creates for himself that guide and direct others as to what’s permissible behavior around him. Passive men typically have no boundaries and allow others to walk all over them.
Men’s counselor and author Wayne Levine calls boundaries N.U.Ts, or Non-negotiable,Unalterable Terms. Your N.U.Ts are the things you’re committed to: your family, your health, your faith, your hobbies, your psychological well-being, etc. According to Levine, “N.U.T.s are the boundaries that define you as man, those things which, if repeatedly compromised, will gradually—but assuredly—turn you into a resentful man.” If you don’t know what your N.U.Ts are, take some time to figure it out. Once you do, make a commitment from here on out that you’ll never compromise them.
- Take responsibility for your own problems.
Nice Guys wait around for someone else to fix their problems. An assertive man understands that his problems are his responsibility. If you see something that needs changing in your life, take action. If you’re not happy with something in your life, start taking steps — however small — to change things.
- Don’t expect people to read your mind.
Nice Guys expect others to recognize what they need and want without having to say a word. Until a mass mutation occurs that allows telepathy or our brains become connected to the Borg, mind reading isn’t possible for the foreseeable future. If you want something, say it; if something bothers you, speak up. Never assume that people know your every need or want. It’s not as obvious as you may think.
- Understand you’re not in charge of how others feel or behave.
Both passive and aggressive men share a similar problem: they both think they’re in charge of how others feel or behave — they just go about it differently. An aggressive man assumes responsibility of others’ behavior and emotions by exerting his will through physical, mental, and emotional force. A passive man assumes responsibility of others’ behavior by constantly submitting his will to the will of others.
Passive men feel it’s their job to make sure everyone is happy, even if that means they themselves are miserable. An assertive man recognizes that it’s not his job to control or worry about others’ behavior and that he’s only responsible for how he behaves and feels. You won’t believe how much less stress and anxiety you’ll feel once you understand this. You’ll no longer spend wasted hours wringing your hands worrying about whether someone will be happy with your choice or opinion. This isn’t to say that you should be an inconsiderate jerk and shouldn’t take into account the feelings/situations of others. It just means you don’t need to go overboard and be so overly considerate that you don’t make any requests or stand up for your values lest you upset or offend someone. Let them decide whether to be upset or offended. That’s their responsibility, not yours.
- You are responsible for the consequences of your assertive words/actions.
Asserting yourself will likely ruffle feathers, and there might be unpleasant consequences. But part of being assertive is taking responsibility for those consequences, come what may. Dealing with those consequences is far better than dealing with those of living an anxious, thwarted life.
- Assertiveness takes time.
Don’t think you’ll magically become assertive simply by reading this article. Assertiveness takes time and practice. You’ll have good days and bad days. Just be persistent with your efforts; it will pay off.
Assertiveness in Action
Once you have the mindset, here’s how to actually start being assertive.
- Start small.
If the thought of standing up for yourself makes you downright nauseous, start with low-risk situations. For example, if you order a burger, and the waiter brings you a grilled cheese, let him know the mistake and send it back. If you’re out running errands on the weekend with your wife and are trying to decide on a place to eat, don’t just automatically defer, but chime in as to where you’d like to go. Once you feel comfortable in these low-risk situations, start upping the ante little by little.
- Say no.
In your quest to become more assertive, “no” is your best friend. Start saying no more often. Does a request conflict with a personal boundary? Say no. Schedule already full? Say “No, gracias.” You don’t have to be a jerk when you do it. It’s possible to be firm and resolute with your no while being considerate. At first, saying no may make you very anxious, but eventually it will come to feel good, and actually quite freeing. Will some people be disappointed when you turn them down? Probably. But remember that as long as you express your needs in a considerate way, you’re not responsible for their reaction. No need to feel guilty for treating yourself like their equal.
- Be simple and direct.
When you’re asserting yourself, less is more. Keep your requests and preferences simple and direct. No need for elaborate explanations or meandering wind-ups. Just politely say your piece.
- Use “I” statements.
When making a request or expressing disapproval use “I” statements. Instead of saying, “You‘re so inconsiderate. You have no idea how hard my day at the office was. Why would you ask me to do all these chores?” say, “I’m exhausted today. I understand you want these things done, but I’m not going to be able to get to them until tomorrow.” Other examples of “I” statements:
- “You’re so needy and controlling.” “I feel frustrated when you make me feel guilty for hanging out with my friends.”
- “You always humiliate me when we visit your parents.” “I feel embarrassed when you insult me in front of your folks.”
- “Your demands are unreasonable!” “I’d prefer that you give me at least three days’ notice before asking me to come in on the weekend.”
When crafting your “I” statements, be careful not to embed accusations or try to interpret the person’s behavior. That will just make them defensive and cause them to shut down. Examples:
- “I feel like you’re purposely being a jagweed just to get on my nerves.”
- “I think you’re trying to pick a fight.”
- Don’t apologize or feel guilty for expressing a need/want/right.
Unless you’re asking for something that’s patently unreasonable, there’s no reason to feel guilty or ashamed for expressing a need or want. So quit apologizing when you make a request. Just politely ask for it and wait to see how the other person responds. Nice Guys will feel guilty even when expressing dissatisfaction with something they’re paying for! If a contractor hasn’t done the work he agreed to do, it’s your right to ask that it be fixed. It has nothing to do with being polite or not hurting his feelings – it’s just business and that’s how it works.
- Use confident body language and tone.
Look confident when making a request or stating a preference. Stand up straight, lean in a bit, smile or keep a neutral facial expression, and look the person in the eye. Also be sure to speak clearly and loudly enough to make your point. Passive folks will tend to whisper and mumble when making their opinions or needs known; that will only serve to frustrate the other person.
Courtesy of: http://www.artofmanliness.com