Before we dive into this, it's important to understand the difference between being assertive and being aggressive. There is a huge difference. Being assertive means to be able to make your point, effectively, in a diplomatic manner where everyone can understand it and maintain respect for you. Being aggressive is getting your point across in a harsh and abrasive manner often hurting people's feelings or quite possibly making enemies along the way. Clearly these aren't Webster's definitions but it's easier to understand in layman's terms.
We all know aggressive people and do our best to not be like them but can you consider yourself to be an assertive person? Do you struggle to be assertive and find that sometimes you come off as borderline aggressive? Here are a few powerful but proven ways to be assertive without hurting anyone's feelings.
1. Style is everything.
The style in which you communicate is the difference between aggression and assertion. Body language plays a huge role in this as well. Be mindful of it. Stay calm, relaxed, in control, maintain a light smile and open arms when getting your point across. Remember people are more receptive to a gentler but firm discussion rather than a bold and loud one.
2. You are not being mean.
Don't forget what being assertive means. You want to get your point across in a diplomatic and trusting way. You aren't being a bully. You are simply standing up to what you believe in and respect is given for that. There isn't anything wrong with that. You are just being you and people will appreciate that even more.
3. Talk in first person.
I did this, or I feel this, rather than you said this and you never did that. We aren't looking to point fingers and lay blame all over the place. That's aggression. You want to make your point in a sincere manner and a somewhat compassionate one so that people will feel your sincerity and understand your position better.
4. Stay consistent and focused.
Get your point across and don't get upset if people don't understand and begin to challenge you. This may happen regardless of you present yourself so stay focused, calm and consistent in your tone, your message and your body language. If you start to get annoyed or irritated by their criticism, you run the risk of losing your cool. Stay calm.
5. Believe in yourself.
When you strongly believe in your topic it is easy to be very passionate and knowledgeable about it, thus having confidence in yourself in being able to discuss it and possibly get others to have faith and believe in you as well. Sincerity will come naturally and you won't come across as being too pushy or aggressive. People will admire your passion and you.
6. Know your limits.
Lay down boundary lines and don't let people cross them. If we let people walk all over us, they will continue to do that forever. Let them know that under no circumstances is it acceptable that they do this. Make sure they know your boundary lines and if they cross it, firmly make them aware and let them know you won't tolerate it if it happens again.
Too many people get taken advantage of and they continue to let it happen because they don't want to upset anyone or rock the boat. All this does is show people how to treat you. If you want people to treat you properly and with respect, assertively show them how. You have to remember that even if you are being assertive and someone's feelings have got hurt in that somehow, it's not your problem, it's theirs. There are times where no matter what you say or how you say it, some people will just take it all wrong anyway. There is little you can do about that. Stay true to you an d your values in a very assertive way, and people will respect and admire you for years to come.