Personal Confidence Mini Series Part 1 – Being Assertive

Personal Confidence Mini Series Part 1. Being Assertive

 “The basic difference between being assertive and being aggressive is how our words and behaviour affects the rights and well being of others.” Sharon Anthony Bower

Welcome to the first of four short blogs covering skills in being more confident. Each blog will challenge you to ask questions of yourself. For the many people I have coached and trained, they have found the techniques and tools very useful and applicable, I am confident you will too.

At this time of year we start to see a lot of new books flooding the market encouraging us to be more confident and taking more control, all with a view to being happier in life; and with the New Year just around the corner, those all important resolutions will play a big part in our commitment.

In this mini series I will cover four main areas, assertiveness, that is in this blog, next up will be being assured, third will be the sense of being authoritative and finally we will finish with authenticity.

What is Assertiveness?

There are so many definitions out there, “being able to speak up”, “having the confidence to say no”,  “being confident in difficult situations”, all of these play a role of course, however one thing I like to emphasise when I coach and train people looking for more confidence is that when it comes to wanting all of these things, it is vital that this is also extended to those people that we come into contact with. You can’t just want it for yourself whilst at the same time denying others the same rights.

The reason I reinforce this, is because people who lack confidence and assertiveness can sometimes perceive people who are confident as being pushy, arrogant or even aggressive, when in reality those people do not see themselves that way at, and certainly have no intention of coming across that way.

This can leave a blurred line between what is acceptable confidence to what is unacceptable.

Fight, Flight or Freeze.

When we observe behaviours in people there are often different things going on.  For example when people feel aggressive they appear to have been put into a position when to them they need to be forceful, bullish even in extremes violent.  By contrast when people feel suppressed, submissive or passive, they believe that they have been put into that position by a stronger force.

Have you heard of flight or fight or freeze? This is a common reaction to intense situations, if you ‘flight’ you run away, if you ‘fight’ you challenge and if you ‘freeze’ you get stuck in place. It is useful to work out what happens to you when you find yourself not feeling particularly confident or assertive. Do you feel that in that moment that those responses are appropriate? If so how could you make them better?

How the Elements of Choice and Control Play a Part.

When people respond aggressively or submissively they are engaging the flight, fight or freeze response, however what is often contributing to the decision to behave this way, it’s the element of choice.

When people are put into a position when they run away, fight back or get stuck, it is because they feel they have few choices left on the table. Think about that for a minute. When you have reacted this way, how many choices or options did you feel or believe were open to you? If you can conclude that there were few or no choices then perhaps that was one of the reasons why you either became aggressive or you backed down or just froze and did not know what to do. Whichever it was, you might have had a sense of losing control, and when we lose any sense of personal control then our behaviour changes and often for the worse.

When people have more choices, more options, they tend to feel a sense of control. Choices create control as we can then compare and contrast these choices or options and we can decide which is most appropriate for the outcome. These choices can be found in our skills, knowledge, and experience and we can be more assertiveness when we can communicate those three elements by using choices.  This then is perceived by others as confident and assertive behaviour as you can come across in more assured way, a more authoritative way and still be yourself also known as authentic.

When you find yourself in a situation where your behaviour is moving away from assertive and towards something less constructive, ask yourself what choices can I create for myself, and others right now? By approaching the situation this way, you will create conversation; you will create constructive thinking and reduce the chance of thinking and believing that there was no choice. The outcome of this is that you will feel more assertive and more confident.

Making Decisions Assertively. Now

When making your choices, be present and do it for the current moment.  Some people find decision making hard and it can hamper assertiveness. To help, only think about the choices you make and their effect in the current time.  If you implement them great, you can revisit and adapt in time if needed. If they were the wrong choices (by the way what does ‘wrong’ actually mean?) then make changes based on choices. Don’t worry about making wrong decisions; at least you made a decision. So many people have a lack of confidence through either not making a decision or overthinking a decision that didn’t work out.  In our next blog we will explore assuredness and this can really help with your decision-making and confidence.

I hope this has helped you in some small way, please do read the other blogs in this miniseries. Thanks for reading and if you or your business require support or help with building assertiveness skills then get in touch with me

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