Assertiveness is an art we can all master.
Here are my top 4 tips for being assertive.
1. Stick to facts and be specific. This is the simplest way to be assertive without slipping into attack mode.So instead of saying: “you never take me out for dinner”. Say: “we haven’t been out dinner for 6 months”.
“Never” and “always” are rarely true. We cheekily slip them in (even when we know they’re not true) because we know they sound more dramatic. However if our intention is to be heard and to have a conversation, not an argument, then they’re words we need to lose as they alienate the listener.
2. Skip the blame. This is when an assertion becomes a form of attack. So saying: “you never take me out for dinner” makes it the other person’s fault. If we want something, we always have to be the person to initiate it. The other person might be content to not go out for dinner – and this is their prerogative. We could sit there waiting for an eternity for them to ask us, so if we want it, we must do the asking.
3. State how you feel. “We haven’t been out for dinner for 6 months and I feel sad that we don’t do this anymore as I miss the quality time we had together”. A good rule of thumb here is to stick to the golden “I feel” statements. This means ditching the “you make me feel”.
This is also prevents us from slipping back into the blame game.
4. Take responsibility for proposing a solution. This means stating that you’d like to go our for dinner on Friday night, and you’ve got a suggestion of where. Or that you need them to stop raising their voice, and instead calmly state what they need. Or that you want an increase in your salary of x%. Propose a solution that you would be truly satisfied by. Don’t expect them to do the work.