10 Ways To Be More Assertive & Take Charge Of Your Life

10 Ways To Be More Assertive & Take Charge Of Your Life ©iStock/PeopleImages

Do you always find yourself wishing that people would take you more seriously, or that your ideas and thoughts were given the weight that you think they deserve? You probably just need to be more assertive and take charge of your life. After all, you’re a strong, independent woman with a lot to offer the world. You just need a little help putting yourself out there more.

  1. Figure out where you need to make changes. You might be assertive in some situations, like with your family or at college, but find it hard to translate that in the workplace or when talking on the phone. That’s fine. Some people can just work certain situations with more confidence and composure than others. Once you know where your weaknesses are, you can work on them much better.
  2. Don’t beat around the bush. Being blunt shows that you know your mind, you know your work, and that you’re confident in what you have to say. Plus, it isn’t half as offensive as you think. In fact, a lot of people appreciate someone being clear and direct with them. It’s often much more refreshing than, “You can say no if you want, but I was just wondering…” being said to you a hundred times a day.
  3. Don’t apologize if you’re not sorry. As women, we’re raised to apologize pretty much constantly for the dumbest things, just in case our mere presence is an inconvenience. The reality is that those apologies start to mean less the more you say them. Save your apologies for when you genuinely mean it.
  4. Stand as tall as you are. We’re conditioned to always want to be smaller, to shrink away, to take up less space. If a woman is tall, she learns to hunch her shoulders. If a woman is fat, she learns to cross her arms and legs and take up less space — or, more commonly, to diet. If a woman is loud, she learns to be quieter. If you want to be affirmative, you have to un-learn these behaviors and stand tall. You need to learn to be big and command space, no matter what anyone thinks of it. It sounds like a small thing, but studies have shown that such behavioral changes can make all the difference.
  5. Try not to stutter. We all stutter or stumble over our words when we’re nervous or on the spot, but with practice, there are ways to mostly overcome these incidents in your speech.  Practice by speaking slower, thinking about what you want to say, and by making your sentences shorter. Eventually, you’ll be able to speak clearly and with more authority without much work.
  6. Don’t “hmm”, “erm,” or “uh” too often. This makes you appear indecisive and weak, and you should try to stop yourself from doing so when you feel that you’re about to. Pausing in your speech to allow you time to think is not nearly as awkward as you’d think.
  7. Practice being more assertive in front of the mirror. It’s easy to say, “Go up to that man, and tell him exactly what you want/feel!” but the reality is a lot more complicated. Nerves can jumble everything up, leaving you feeling a lot less assertive than when you started off. Instead, practice in front of the mirror at first to grow you confidence. It seems silly, but it’ll help.
  8. Listen attentively. You can only be assertive if you have all the facts. An assertive person knows all sides to a story, and can therefore feel more much confident in what they have to say.
  9. Make eye contact. Even if you’re nervous, eye contact can go a huge way in making you appear less insecure and more assertive. The worst thing you can do is look down at the floor, so chin up.
  10. Use “I” as much as possible. By using I instead of you, you’re keeping the focus on you and not allowing anyone else to confuse your words, take what you have to say personally, or become defensive.
Sarah is a full-time content marketer, part-time freelancer. She’s a serial hobbyist (which just means that she does a lot of random things, but none of them particularly well). Her real talent lies in her ability to consume copious amounts of wine, whilst discussing feminism and reading A Song of Ice and Fire for the 8th time... All while saving puppies from burning houses, of course. You can see more of her work here, or pop over to Twitter and say “‘ello ‘ello” @daughterdipstik