If you had to single one trait that points to success in the modern world, it would have to be assertiveness. Assertiveness will help you get the job you want, pursue the career to dream of, date the girl you fantasie over, and achieve the goals you have. If you want to get what you want, you need to be assertive. I am not talking about brutal Machiavellian ambition. Assertiveness is the ability to communicate what you want or need in a clear and powerful manner while at the same time respecting the needs of others. By being assertive, you build self confidence and leadership. It also leads to a decline in stress and anxiety becuase you are able to chart a clear path for the future. It makes you courageous and more equipped to meet the challenges and risks that lie ahead. It makes you a powerful communicator, which in turn leaves no doubt to those around you of your intentions. Assertiveness wil help you get what you need, because many of us make the incorrect assumption that other people know what we need. So, if assertiveness is such an important ingredient to success in life, what can you do now to make yourself more assertive.
1) Self belief
If you have no belief in yourself, it is almost impossible for you to verbalize your needs. You will constantly be dogged by a voice in your head that says “who cares what I want”, and “what are they going to think if i ask for this”. If you believe in yourself, you are able to formulate a vision of what you want. If this self-belief is lacking, you will always want to meet the needs of others.
2) Learn How to Say No
Humans are wired to please others. When we lived in small communities, our survival was predicated on our abilities to remain in the good books of fellow villagers. If you were a disagreeable asshole that never did his chores and continually harassed the young ladies, they would expel you to the wilderness where you would be snacked on by ill tempered hyenas. Helping others also makes us feel good about ourselves so there is a fine line between being a douche and learning to say no. If someone asks you for something, be realistic about you ability to deliver. You might need to work until 10pm, which you could do, but that would require cancelling date night with your wife. Find the balance - furthering your career or building your spousal relationship.
3) Start Complaining - a little
How often have you returned something at a restaurant, or complained about bad service from your bank. Try and make one small compliant every week, but be nice about it. Do not get aggressive and stroppy. Complain in a tone that is courteous yet firm, and try not to be an asshole about it. 4) Practice If you want a raise at work, prepare the pitch beforehand. Write down what you want to say and make sure you formulate a clear and powerful message. Then practice your pitch in front of the mirror. You want to be slow, clear and bold in your communication. You want to make firm eye contact with your boss. You want to make sure your hand gestures are slow, non-threatening and enhance your message. Practice once, twice, three times or as many times as necessary until you feel you have nailed the delivery.
5) Be Unambiguous Simplicity and clarity are the twin gods of assertiveness. If you comunicatre your intentions using complicated and difficult to follow language, you are going to leave your audience perplexed. Take a look at these two mission statements. Statement 1: I want to tap into the energy of the universe and attract a following of believers who will make the world a better place. Statement 2: I want to build a community of one thousand people with shared values so we can support and further each others goals. Your communication needs to be clear and simple, like the second statement.
6) Your Verbal Communication must match your Non-Verbal If your language is open and bold but your body language is closed and timid, your message will be misunderstood. The majority of communication is non verbal. It is for this reason that action speaks louder than words. In the abovementioned example, your listener will place more currency on your non-verbal and your negative body language will cancel your positive verbal message.
7) Put Yourself in the Shoes of the Other
Humans are dogged by self interest. When someone interacts with you, they are going to be asking themselves what is in it for them. I am not talking about monetary benefit - although this could sometimes be the case. By understanding the needs of the person(s) to whom you are talking, and being empathetic to these needs, you are able to increase your assertiveness. Remember, you are trying to “get your way”. You have an agenda, you have objectives. The only way you will succeed is if you understand the objectives and agenda of the other.