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How to Be Assertive

How to Be Assertive

    #lifeskills

    #peerconnections

Suzie Brooks, Children's Aid Foundation of Canada

Sep 22nd

Being assertive is showing confidence and firmness in how you speak. This is an important skill to have, especially in situations when you have to advocate for yourself like in your career, a healthcare setting, or in your personal relationships. This is a skill that you can practice so you feel more comfortable using it. It is also important to remind yourself that assertiveness is not a bad thing, it is standing up for yourself and ensuring that your voice is heard in situations where it might not be. Try the following tips to practice being assertive:

A tear in a piece of paper revealing the word "confidence".

Confidence

It is a lot easier to be assertive when you feel confident. This is something that a lot of people struggle with, myself included. What’s great about confidence is that you can practice this behaviour. Confidence requires you to believe in yourself. You are important and deserve to have your voice heard. Confidence is not a bad thing, though it may feel uncomfortable at first.

A quote that says "You know? It's okay to say no".

Get Comfortable Saying “No”

If you are asked to join a project at work, but you don’t feel like you have the capacity to do this with everything on your plate, you can say no. It could be really helpful to communicate to your team or supervisor that you have too many tasks on the go, and you do not have the ability to add another project right now. Communication is important in this step, but you do not have to share anything you are not comfortable sharing.

Wooden blocks in a line spelling out "try again". 

Practice

Assertiveness is a skill, which means like confidence, you can practice. You could practice this the next time you go out to order food or a coffee and they get your order wrong. Of course, this doesn’t happen all the time, but next time it does, remind yourself to be assertive and let them know that there was a mistake with your order. As a former server, I can reassure you that if you let someone kindly know that there was a mistake, they will not be upset, they most likely just want to get you the correct order. You can even have a friend help you out with scenarios you want to be assertive for, like practicing what you are going to say.

A woman in a purple shirt with purple flowers over her eyelids, smiling. 

Positivity

Being assertive is not a negative thing. Reassure yourself that this is a positive skill that can help you from over-working yourself and give you the skills and confidence you need to speak up in situations where you really want to. Practicing assertiveness helps you. In my experience, I didn’t have a voice when I was a youth in care, I felt like nothing I said mattered because I was told I didn’t “understand”, despite the fact I was living it. You are smarter than you know, and your voice matters. You just need to find your voice again.

A sticky note on a bulletin board that says "you got this!".

Encourage Yourself

This is something that you should try to do often. At first, you might not be as assertive as you would like when under pressure, but that’s okay. Try again! Since this is a skill, it means that you can do it, it just takes practice. Sometimes you might not have others around you to help encourage you, so it helps to be there for yourself. You could write encouraging words on sticky notes or on a white board so you see it often.  

I hope these tips can help you learn to be assertive. Like many skills, it takes practice. Remind yourself that you deserve to have a voice and that with practice, you can do it. If you would like to learn more tips, visit Master Class’s article “How to Be Assertive: 10 Tips for Becoming More Assertive”.

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