I’m sure there have been times when you asked yourself, am I assertive, or questioned whether you’re strong minded enough or not. It can very frustrating when things go on around you and you feel that you have no, or very little control. This is especially true if it affects you directly. Not only is it frustrating, it can also cause anger or losing confidence.
The definition of assertive from the Cambridge Dictionary, is to behave confidently and to not be frightened to say what you want or believe. This is a positive description of what it means, but other words such as, forceful, commanding, bullish and dominant, can also be used, and these describe a negative side.
It’s a good idea to look at both the positive and negative sides of being assertive to see which, if any, is dominant with you. This is a good way to help determine your character and the way it affects you and others. Once you’re aware, it’s easier to see the areas where you may need to step up or step back. Sometimes the problem can be that we over compensate for lacking assertiveness and come across to others as too forceful or dominant.
Am I Assertive or Forceful?
Let’s be clear, being assertive isn’t a bad thing. It’s mostly good when applied to yourself, but when it’s used to the detriment of others, then it isn’t. If you’ve ever been employed in an aggressive work environment, where it’s “dog eat dog”, you’ll know how bad it can be. That kind of culture can drive a business forward, but the casualties along the way, through stress and backbiting, can make it an unpleasant place to be.
Team work can be totally destroyed if one or more of the members act with over assertiveness. It can also cause a withdrawal of contributions from weaker members. Whose fault is that, the weaker or overly assertive members? It can be similar in relationships, where one partner is assertive, and the other isn’t. That can work for some couples, where one takes the lead and the other follows, but over time it can cause unhappiness or even breakup.
Being forceful or aggressive means you’re the type of person who charges ahead without considering others, and most importantly, don’t listen to what others have to say. An assertive person will make their point strongly and firmly, but will also consider the opinion of others. They will listen as well as act. This is a sign of being confident and self-assured. Look at yourself and decide which you are. It may be neither, it could be that you aren’t assertive enough, and that could be holding you back.
Should I be More Assertive?
If you’re the shy and retiring type who lets others take the lead, it’s most likely you lack some assertiveness. Perhaps you like it that way and if so, great! If, on the other hand, it makes you feel inferior, you should look for ways to become more confident. That will help to increase your assertiveness and confidence.
As your confidence grows, there can be a point where you become a little too assertive. This is moving into an area where you may upset people because you’re entering new territory. New found confidence can sometimes take getting used to and cause you to over compensate for your previous lack of it. For a time, you might cross the line between being assertive and being forceful. Hopefully you’ll find the right level quickly. If you go too far and get criticized by others, be prepared to face a setback, but keep in mind this is new to you and it will work out alright.
Don’t always put having confidence and being assertive together. It’s can sometime be that someone who is very assertive, is so because they lack confidence. They project a forceful personality to cover up that they’re not at all confident. The sad thing is that they often fool themselves too. If I’ve just described you, then you need to work on building confidence. It’s always a good idea to look beyond why someone comes across as unbearable, because there may be a reason that surprises you.
Getting the Balance Right
How assertive are you? You’ll know the answer to that if you look within, but just for fun, you might want to take the Assertiveness Test from psychologytoday.com. If you want to know how to become more assertive without being pushy, you might need to reprogram your mind. This might be through using affirmations to boost confidence. Pinpoint the areas where you lack confidence and work on those. Repetition of affirmations together with taking action, however small, will help.
Do you undervalue yourself, put others first or fail to speak up to be heard? If so, why? That’s what you need to answer. Is that how you were trained to be from an early age? So often, this is where the problem originates from. You know the saying: little children should be seen but not heard, how stupid is that!
So many adult lives have been held back by stupid things that were drummed into them from an early age. Look at it in that way – know that you have the same right as anyone else to be valued and heard. Your opinion counts!
Shift the Vibration
What you put out, is what is attracted back to you. Are you being treated badly? If so, take responsibility. That doesn’t mean it’s your fault, but it does mean you can change it. Perhaps you’re being treated badly because you allow it to be that way.
If you begin to build a little more confidence through affirmation and visualization, at some point you will be able to stop it. The focus shouldn’t be that you’re not going to accept being treated badly.
It should be that you’ll only accept being treated decently. Once you stand up to it in a positive way, you’re sending out a clear vibration which will be attracted back to you. You’ll no longer need to ask the question, am I being assertive, because you’re taking steps to be so.