Assertiveness:
Coping With Stress With Confidence 

Earth Day Yoga

Assertiveness is something which is often underplayed these days.

A few years ago it was all the rage to send employees on courses to become more self-confident in the workplace.

The trouble is it backfired, instead of producing more confident, balanced people; it turned out rude, arrogant ones who thought that to be self-confident meant getting what you want no matter what.

Strangely this lead to even more stress in the workplace.

So What is Assertiveness?

Basically it means to have the ability to say “no” and to put your views across without offending or upsetting anyone else.

Sounds simple right? Wrong! It can be a fine line between coming across as being aggressive or as a confident person who knows what they want and can communicate this to other people affectively.

The principle behind assertiveness is we all have equal rights. So you have the right to:

  • Be yourself
  • Express your own opinions
  • To be listened to
  • To be respected
  • To be human and get things wrong
  • To disagree
  • To take responsibility for your own actions

How Does Being Self Assured Help With Stress?

You may be wondering how being self assured can help with stress. Well lets take a scenario, You go to work everyday but are too afraid to speak up for yourself, you find that jobs no ones else wants to do are given to you.

Because you don’t say anything, you find yourself feeling put upon. Your self esteem falls and this in turn reduces your confidence even more. Going to work becomes a stressful experience for you as you know that people don’t really respect you.

However by being assertive you are better able in dealing with stress in situations like these. It makes you more confident and self assured and people around you will treat you differently, with respect and with a sense of someone who is in control.

Being assertive says:

  • I’m Ok, You’re Ok
  • This is how I feel
  • I respect you and you respect me
  • I’m in control of my life, this is me

How Confident Are You?

Often we hold beliefs which prevent us from showing our assertiveness to others. Some of these beliefs are:

  • People should know how I feel
  • It is selfish to say what I want
  • It is impolite to say what I really think
  • If I say “no” people will not like me

These are just some of the things which stop us being or true selves and allowing ourselves to be in control of our life and dealing with stress in our lives.

Answer these questions for yourself and see if you are assertive or not

  1. If I am annoyed then I will tell everyone why I am annoyed.
  2. If I don’t know how to do something I am not afraid to ask for help.
  3. If I feel something could be done better, I push for changes to be made even if others disagree
  4. I can say “no” if I am asked to do something I don’t want to do.
  5. I will make a complaint in a shop if necessary.
  6. I can accept criticism from others.

If you mainly answered yes then you are fairly self assured and confident and you could build on this in other situations. If you mainly answered No then you are definitely in need of some assertiveness training.

Learn The Skills

Learning to be more self assured can be obtained through several ways. You could attend some classes in confidence building or building self esteem. However you may find it easier to read some books on the subject or follow a few online courses.

There are six basic assertiveness skills to be learnt which will enable you to be more in control of your life and be more able to cope with stress. They are;

Basic skills – State your wants in short direct ways; do not beat around the bush. I.e. “I would prefer not to do that” or “I think we should do it this way”.  Practice saying things like this to yourself on a daily basis, that way they will not feel so strange to you when you do need to say them for real.

Scripting – if you find yourself in a situation where someone has repeatedly upset you, you will need to approach the situation so that an argument or resentment doesn’t occur from your next conversation. By writing out what you want to say beforehand, will allow you to be in control and polite even though you may feel angry. Make sure you include:

  • What the problem is
  • How it affects you
  • How you are feeling
  • What you would like to happen to make the situation better.

Repeat – This technique is best used when someone is not listening to you or when you have someone who is quite persuasive trying to make unfair demands.

  • Speak in a calm soft voice
  • Make your statement
  • Repeat your statement after the other person talks
  • Keep doing this until they respond directly to what you are saying
  • Do not talk over them, remain calm and in control.

Negotiation – These skills are so important in finding a way out of deadlock whilst remaining calm and controlled.

  • Try to see the other person’s point of view and let them know that you understand their position
  • Ask for clarification of their side of the argument
  • If possible offer a compromise. Being stubborn will often exasperate the situation.

Praise and compliment – By complimenting other people on work well done etc it gives the other person a view of you as a caring and respectful person who is not afraid to speak up. This will stand you in good stead the next time you need to say “no”.

Receiving praise – Make sure you are the sort of person who can accept praise when it is given to you. Say “thank you very much” not “oh it was nothing”. The first statement is strong the second is passive.

With these assertiveness skills under your belt and practiced often you will not only feel more in control and able to cope with things better but others will treat you differently and this will build your self esteem, something we all need to raise us above the hubbub.

› Assertiveness

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