Own Your Voice: The Practical Guide to Becoming More Assertive

Aaron Bouren
4 min readAug 7, 2023

We all have a voice, but how many of us actually use it to its full potential? How many times have you stepped back, swallowed your words, or nodded along just to avoid any potential conflict? If your answer is ‘often,’ then this blog post is for you. Becoming more assertive isn’t about bulldozing your way through every conversation or becoming the office tyrant. It’s about expressing your thoughts and feelings in a confident, respectful manner. It’s about striking the perfect balance between passive and aggressive-assertiveness. Let’s delve deeper into this life-altering journey of self-improvement and learn how to be more assertive!

Understanding Assertiveness

Assertiveness, to put it simply, is your ability to stand up for yourself and your rights, expressing your feelings and beliefs confidently and directly. It’s about taking the middle road between being overly passive and excessively aggressive. Neither do you accept everything silently nor lash out in anger or frustration.

When you’re assertive, you respect your own needs and feelings, and at the same time, you respect the needs and feelings of others. You understand that your rights are just as important as those of the person you’re speaking with. You feel deserving of respect and are willing to give it in return.

Assertiveness, contrary to popular belief, is not an innate trait but a learned behavior. It’s not about changing who you are, but rather about developing a set of skills that allows you to express yourself better. You can, and should, strive to become more assertive. So, how do you do it?

Steps to Becoming More Assertive

  • Know your Worth: The journey to becoming more assertive begins with recognizing and appreciating your self-worth. You are unique, and your opinions and feelings matter. Cultivating this mindset is essential because if you don’t believe you deserve to be heard, you’ll always struggle to make your voice heard.
  • Clear Communication: Assertiveness thrives on clarity. Be specific about your needs, desires, or opinions. Rather than leaving things open to interpretation, ensure that your message is clear and precise.
  • Use “I” Statements: Using “I” statements helps you express your feelings without sounding accusatory. Instead of saying, “You’re always late,” say, “I feel disrespected when our meeting time isn’t honored.”
  • Practice Active Listening: Assertiveness isn’t just about being heard; it’s also about listening and understanding others’ viewpoints. Active listening promotes effective two-way communication.
  • Learn to Say No: Overcommitting because of the inability to say ‘no’ can lead to stress and resentment. Prioritize your mental health and learn to decline requests that may overwhelm you.
  • Body Language: Your words may say one thing, but if your body language doesn’t match, your message may get lost. Stand tall, maintain eye contact, and speak with a clear, steady voice to show confidence and sincerity.
  • Manage Emotions: Assertiveness is about expressing your feelings, not your frustration or anger. Be aware of your emotions, and if you feel them escalating, take a moment to calm down before responding.
  • Seek Feedback: Regularly ask for feedback to understand how your assertiveness comes across. Constructive criticism can help you fine-tune your approach.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice: Like any other skill, assertiveness improves with practice. Start with low-risk situations and gradually take on more challenging scenarios.

Overcoming Challenges to Assertiveness

Becoming more assertive doesn’t come without challenges. Here are some common ones and ways to overcome them:

  • Fear of Conflict: Many people equate assertiveness with conflict. Remember, assertiveness is about open communication, not combativeness. Once you start communicating assertively, you may find that it reduces conflict, as things are dealt with directly and respectfully.
  • Guilt: Society often conditions us to feel guilty about standing up for ourselves. Counteract this by realizing that your needs and feelings are just as important as everyone else’s.
  • Perceived Arrogance: Some may misconstrue assertiveness as arrogance. By coupling assertiveness with empathy, you can reduce this perception.
  • Cultural or Gender Stereotypes: Cultural norms or gender expectations can sometimes pose hurdles. Stand firm, knowing that everyone has a right to assertiveness, regardless of their cultural background or gender.

Assertiveness isn’t a destination but a continuous journey. It’s about cultivating a mindset of mutual respect and empathy, coupled with an unshakeable belief in your self-worth. It’s about refining the art of communication-balancing listening and speaking, asking and refusing, engaging and withdrawing.

When you master assertiveness, you’re not only better equipped to express your needs and desires, but you also open the door for others to express theirs, leading to healthier, more authentic relationships in all areas of your life.

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be patient with yourself as you navigate this journey. Every step you take towards assertiveness is a step towards a more confident, happier you. Now, go out there and make your voice heard-you owe it to yourself!

Originally published at https://aaronbouren.com on August 7, 2023.

--

--

Aaron Bouren

Aaron Bouren, CEO of Bouren Ventures, is an entrepreneur, public speaker, sales trainer, and marketing expert. Learn more at aaronbouren.com