How do you become more assertive?

How Do You Become More Assertive?

How Do You Become More Assertive?

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Nov. 9 2015 7:12 AM

How Do You Become More Assertive?

assertive person.
Being assertive means stating situations as they are, strongly but calmly.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Catherine Yeulet/Thinkstock.

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Answer by Steven Mason, brand strategist and ideator; patent claims strategist; patent broker:

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The result of assertiveness is respect. So how do you get it?

Be calm. Speak firmly but more softly. Don't yell. Don't beg. State things as they are. And don't ask permission or apologize! For example:

  • I hope it would be OK if I did this.
  • I worked really hard at this, but I don't think it's any good—what do you think?
  • Do you think it would be OK if I looked at the problem this way?
  • Oh, OK, I'm sorry to bother you—I am still unhappy about the service your company provided, and I won't shop here again, but I am really disappointed you won't refund my money.
  • You would never want to go on a date with me, would you?

Assertive doesn't mean you stick a machine gun in someone's face and demand action. It means you stop the political correctness and just state things as they are—the consequences, the conditions, and so on—strongly, but calmly.

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There is also one other word I'm going to give you. It's the most powerful word in the English language: no. For example:

  • No, I don't agree with your tactics, and I won't use them.
  • No, your proposal is not acceptable to me under any circumstances.
  • Thank you for calling me, but I'm not able to continue this conversation now, as I have a call in two minutes. Again, thanks for your time. Good day [hang up]. (This is for someone who will simply not get off the phone.)
  • No, thank you, I have a prior commitment at that time. I am available on Monday between noon and 3.
  • You're welcome to call me a moron and idiot as much as you want; however, that does not solve the impasse between our companies. So you can either work to solve the problem with me, the moron, or I will take whatever lawful actions are necessary to attain the desired result for my company. The choice is yours. (Humor can be effective here to show that the name-calling doesn't bother you in the least.)

Do what I say, and you will gain respect. Appease to no end, and you will attract more who wish to take advantage of you.

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