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This Is How To Be More Assertive: 3 Powerful Secrets From Research by Eric Barker

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Here’s how to be more assertive:

  • Assertiveness is about controlling your own behavior, not theirs. You always have a choice. And the consequences for resisting control by others are rarely as bad as you think.
  • You can’t stop people from asking, but you can say no. Figure out the reasonable consequences of doing so. And then decide. Use the “broken record technique” with aggressives.
  • People aren’t psychic. If you want something, ask. Figure out what you want. Make it reasonable and fair. Word it as a request. If they say no, that doesn’t mean they hate you.
  • Symbolic Value is often what makes confrontation hard. It’s usually best to try to get people to change their behavior, not their personality.

It takes some time and practice to become more assertive. People will push back initially. They’re used to the old you. That’s okay. Again, you can’t change their behavior, only yours.

But once you start being more comfortable speaking up, it doesn’t just mean more conflict. It can actually mean wonderful things, too.

Professor Randy Peterson points out something interesting: passive people don’t just avoid conflict. They often avoid saying a lot of good stuff too.

From The Assertiveness Workbook:

You might think that a person who overuses the passive style would have no great difficulty giving positive feedback. They might be giving it constantly, using a “Here’s a compliment, don’t attack me” strategy. In fact, the reverse seems to be true. Most passive individuals not only avoid conflict, they also avoid the expression of positive feeling. They seldom give compliments, express affection, or provide positive feedback.

As you become more assertive, you’ll be a more encouraging, supportive, friend, partner, employee or co-worker. And that’s something that makes life better for everyone.

Those around you will come to appreciate the more assertive you.

From The Assertiveness Workbook:

Through assertiveness we develop contact with ourselves and with others. We become real human beings with real ideas, real differences… and real flaws. And we admit all these things. We don’t try to become someone else’s mirror. We don’t try to suppress someone else’s uniqueness. We don’t try to pretend that we’re perfect. We become ourselves.

Assertiveness is controlling your actions. Aggressiveness is trying to control others'.

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