Being assertive does not mean being a bully.
It does mean you will be more a more effective communicator and, more importantly, avoid all the negative effects of being overly passive.
Being too passive can cause a number of difficulties not least of which is increased stress.
According to the Mayo Clinic “Assertiveness can help you control stress and anger and improve coping skills.”
This effect of overly passive communication often leads to failed negotiations, being forced to do work you don’t want to do (oftentimes outside your job description), and few leaders are overly passive communicators.
So how do you become an assertive communicator, without turning into the office jerk?
We have six tips to help you be more assertive, without going over the top.
“I” Vs. “You”
Assertive people are comfortable saying how they feel or think.
I feel…or I think…
Aggressive people use more often, you.
So, lets say your boss is asking (forcing) you to do work outside your job responsibilities. You can be aggressive and say “You’re giving me way too much to do”.
Or you can say, “I feel this is beyond my responsibilities” or that “I have too much on my plate”.
The Proper Use of Eye Contact
You’re not seven years old and this isn’t a staring contest. Good eye contact is about looking the other person in the eyes when speaking, and looking for natural breaks in the conversation to divert your eyes so as to prevent an awkward situation.
The key to good eye contact is to make sure you actually remember to blink. Since a person’s natural tendency when looking another person in the eyes is NOT to blink, you might find it necessary to remind yourself to blink – at least at first.
Good Posture and Body Language
It goes without saying that you should always maintain good posture, especially when you’re trying to be an assertive communicator. Bad posture makes you look and feel weak. If you look weak you automatically lose the upper hand in any situation.
Plus it’s very difficult to be assertive if you look and feel weak.
Effective use of body language projects an assertive and confident feeling that is quickly picked up by those you’re communicating with. On the other hand, the poor use of body language (too much, too little, or inappropriate) weakens your position in the same way as bad posture.
Always Be Clear and Direct
Assertive people know what they want. Likewise, assertive communicators know how to speak clearly and directly.
Weak communicators have a tendency to speak a lot, without saying much. On the other hand assertive communicators can say a lot with fewer words since they don’t beat around the bush – they tell you exactly what they want.
Use Silence in the Right Way
Do you often feel awkward when there’s a break in a conversation? If you do then you’re probably a weak, or at least a less assertive, communicator.
Assertive communicators know how to use silence to their advantage.
They know most people feel awkward when there is silence.
They also know that most people will say anything to fill the void. Don’t do it.
Filling the void of silence with nonsense weakens your position and keeps you from being a truly assertive communicator.
Avoid Anger and Foul Language
If you get angry, lose your temper, and use foul language do you really think you’re communicating assertively?
A truly assertive person may use a weaker person’s anger against them to help the assertive person achieve their goal.
If you want to be an assertive communicator you should do whatever you can to keep your anger in check.
 Mayo Clinic Staff. “Being assertive: Reduce stress, communicate better.” Mayo Clinic., Web. 26 Feb. 2015