Assertiveness can be a game changer. It can give your career and personal life a boost in ways you might not expect. When you’re assertive, you embrace honesty, open communication, and level-headedness. You are also confident enough to welcome differing opinions and consider others’ points of view.
Assertiveness is the sweet spot between passivity and aggression. Many of us tend to be off-balanced in our approach, either allowing others to walk all over us or exerting our authority in a way that seems forceful or demanding.
There is a better way.
When you’re assertive, you’re candid about your intentions, wants, and desires. You aren’t forcing them on others, but you’re willing to express them and own them. You’re also being respectful by not hiding your intentions.
If you’re used to acting in passive mode or behaving aggressively, it may take time to find the balance and practice assertiveness. Be mindful of both what you say and how you say things. Pay attention to your interactions and reflect on how you might modify your behavior to be more assertive.
Your effort will be worth it. Assertiveness has many beneficial side effects, including these seven:
1. Elevated self-esteem
When you speak up and take action to influence the world around you, your self-esteem gets a boost. Assertiveness involves fearlessly taking on responsibility and being authentic to your true self, which can build a positive self-image.
2. Improved confidence
Acting confident (even if you don’t truly feel it) can lead to actual confidence. Leadership expert Amy Cuddy says, “Don’t fake it ‘til you make it. Fake it ‘til you become it.” Your external attitude can lead to an internal confidence boost.
3. Sharpened image
When you feel more confident, you’ll be perceived as confident. People assume you’re more capable, intelligent, and have better leadership skills than someone who is less confident. It’s attractive to others.
4. Enhanced communication
Part of being assertive involves speaking up for what you want and being open with others about your thoughts and feelings. Assertive people have an openness about them that is not only refreshing, but can help build interpersonal relationships. Conversely, passivity demonstrates that you believe others’ opinions are more important than yours, while aggression demonstrates that you believe your ideas are more viable. When you’re assertive and also open to others’ ideas, you encourage those around you to follow suit. This creates a bond of trust which can lead to better interpersonal communication and relationships.
5. Amplified results
Not only will assertiveness lead to better relationships, it also leads to better idea generation and, therefore, results. When you’re open with your opinions and thoughts, you’ll be shocked by how much more effective you (and your team) can be. Even the simple act of offering an opinion or suggestion (which could be as simple as, “I’d like to try XYZ restaurant” or “I prefer the orange marketing color scheme instead of the red one”) can influence others to share. An accepting, open environment leads to enhanced strategizing, as well as improved innovation and results.
6. Increased understanding of your emotions
By consistently examining, sharing and pursuing yours desires, you gain a better understanding of yourself. That type of open vulnerability can also help others connect with you on an emotional level, as well.
7. Augmented negotiation skills
Negotiations are difficult for those who miss the mark on assertiveness, landing either on the passive or aggressive side of things. Those who are passive may base decisions on the least confrontational solution; those who are aggressive tend to force their stance on others. Those who practice assertiveness take a more neutral position. They are open enough to admit the limitations of their knowledge and they put forth their opinions. This leads to open, honest discussions that result in informed actions.
Making a conscious effort to think and act more assertively can have a profound impact on both your personal life and career. Start embracing your assertive side today. Think about how you can act confidently and competently in every meeting, email, or interaction, and start seeing results.