Thursday, March 14, 2013

Being Assertive: How to Grow a Backbone

Cheerfully Firm
Cheerfully Firm (Photo credit: cheerfulmonk)
by Tracy Brinkmann

Have you ever had a time where you feel as if everyone is taking advantage of your polite demeanor or good nature? Are you having the feeling more often than you would like?

Do you think they would still do it if you were more assertive? Do you want to learn how to be more assertive and grow a backbone?

Well you would be surprised at the size of the group you are in if you answered yes to one or more of those questions.

When I looked up how many people searched for "How to be more assertive" Google says 8,100 people are searching for that phrase monthly.

Add to it those that search for "How to be more assertive at [home] or [work] etc." and those looking for assertiveness training and then number grows to fifty thousand. If you just look up "How to be assertive" the number jumps to a quarter million - so you are not alone by far!

So as you can easily see, becoming more assertive is a goal that so many want to achieve. They and perhaps even you feel disrespected and you want to be able to stand our ground. Even more so you want to able to stand your ground without that gnawing feeling of guilt or fear. You want to grow a backbone!

If you have tried, even just a little, you already know that developing a backbone is no easy task. But I am here to tell you with experience and confidence that it can be accomplished if you are committed to it.

While clearly I cannot give you a step-by-step back-bone growing process in this short article. Let me at least share with you are some simple tips that will enable you to strengthen your assertiveness, as quickly as possible, and give you the back-bone "seed" that you can nourish and grow:

  • Stop apologizing so much. Far too many people utter an apology out of mere habit. Many use the term "I'm sorry" far too frequently and often at inappropriate times. Take a moment right now to think about the last few times you have used those two simple words. Then think about how you generally use them. Is it in situations that you truly should be sorry for?
    • You see, once you are able to stop apologizing for every little thing, you will begin to become more assertive. You need to learn to differentiate between when there is a need to apologize and when there is not.When you are apologizing 'just because' you are giving away your assertive power.
    • Hitting someone with you grocery cart in the store because you were not looking warrants an apology.
    • Drinking the last cup of orange juice before your spouse is not a situation that warrants an "I'm sorry." I mean it was bought to be drunk right?
    • If you're watching television and your child prefers to sit in the chair you are sitting in, "I'm sorry" is not appropriate. Does not mean you won't be nice and give them their favorite chair but do not give up your assertive power with a random "I'm sorry."

  • Speak up. Tell those around you what you want and need. To me one of the keys to keeping assertiveness from becoming "jerkiness" is that assertiveness requires good communication and the skills that come with that: Listening and Speaking. Be clear and firm with what you desire. Practice standing up for yourself by conveying your wants and desires to others and listen to their responses.
    • Let be perfectly clear here - There is absolutely no need to be aggressive or nasty. Clearly communicate that you have thoughts, opinions and needs, as much as they do. Once you begin to express these better, the people around you will learn how to appreciate and respect you more, too. If they do not then you need to reevaluate the people with whom you are allowing to be in that part of your life. Whether it is your home life, your work life or other parts of your life - you should only want those at can respect you in it.
    • Squeak up! If you want to develop a backbone, there is no time to be a mouse and sit in the corner. Voice your opinion and be proud of what you have to say; people will take notice and listen. People learn to respect those that have to courage, assertiveness and backbone to speak their mind. Start with small things and grow as your back bone grows. I am willing to be that as you start small, those that really care about you in your world will ASK to learn more about your needs. This will really give your assertiveness backbone a boost.

  • Be committed and be patient. It is truly wonderful that you have decided to make positive changes in your life. So many do not and sit stagnant wondering why everyone else is getting what they want. It is something that you should be VERY proud of! But let us be completely honest with each other here, a complete transformation will NOT occur overnight. You have entered into a journey, and you will have to be willing to stick it out!
    • You are going to have good as well as bad days, but you must not give up. As long as you remain committed and remain patient, you will grow a little each day and finally succeed in what you are trying to accomplish.
    • Keep your eyes on the prize. Focus on the big picture down the road and imagine how much happier you will be and how much your life will improve once you are able to be assertive and stand up for yourself.

  • Work on your body language. This is a fact that most people forget about entirely. Body language is extremely important in any situation. Your body language will tell as much of if not more of the story then your words will - to the good or to the detriment of your outcome. When trying to become more assertive, your body language must reflect this as well.
    • Stand up straight, shoulders back, head held high, speak up in a clear tone, make sure your hands are not crossed over your chest, and maintain eye contact with whomever you are speaking with. Not a crazed bugged-eyed stare but the eye contact of someone who sincerely believes in what they want. You do believe you deserve you level of respect don't you? Of course you do!
    • If you look assertive, people will perceive you as such. When you are on a bus, or a subway or in a mall and you see someone who is wearing a sharp suit, tie perfectly knotted, shoes shined, hair combed so that nothing is out of place and they are walking confidently - you get a vision of what they are in your head. Perhaps a lawyer or a successful business man. All from their looks and body language. So if you keep your eyes on the floor, you shoulder are slouched, have your hands across your chest, and/or you mumble incoherently, you will have a lot of trouble to getting your point across. Instead look assertive and you will be perceived as such.

Assertiveness can help you in your personal life, your professional life, with your family, and in many other areas as well. Though it will take a bit of time, as long as you continually make positive steps to grow your new backbone, it will be there before you know it and when you need it! Think Successfully & Take Action! Tracy.

Tracy Brinkmann, the "Think Successfully & Take Action" Man is a Top Goal Strategist. An Author, Coach and Motivational Speaker, he is an expert on the subjects of Goal Setting, Time Management, Procrastination, Motivation and Business Success.

His Goal in life is to help you realize the life and goals that you dream, desire and deserve. Learn his Strategies at

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