Chances are, you know you could be more assertive. If you are like nearly every American polled (91%) you can even identified at least one person with whom you need to be more assertive. All you need now is the confidence to take it to the next level.
So, how can you build your confidence?
One approach would be to rely on some standard stress management practices. Remember, a little stress is not necessarily a hindrance: many actors find that a bit of performance stress in fact helps them perform much better on stage than they might have done in a film or television studio.
Here are some tips for keeping stress to a manageable level:
Know your stuff: The better prepared you are in terms of the details of a situation, the less you will have to fear unexpected developments. Tennis great Arthur Ashe once famously stated “One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”
Relax: Or relax as much as you can. Be aware of over-stressed behavior (rapid, shallow breathing, and tense muscles) and modify this by slowing down your breathing and progressively relaxing your muscles (tense your toes, and breathe in; relax your toes, and breathe out; repeat this sequence for calf muscles, buttocks, stomach, fingers, arms, neck, eyes).
Watch Your Diet: Avoid beverages or food that might “wind you up” or make you feel ill. Fast foods can leave you feeling dragged down, and too much caffeine can artificially raise your levels of anxiety.
Stay Positive: Reject fantasies of failure and any self-destructive messages to yourself (“I always mess this up; I’ll never succeed at this”). Imagine what it will feel like to succeed or to achieve the kind of results you are looking for.
Gaining confidence through risk-taking
Another way you can become a more confident person and, thus, be more assertive is by taking small, manageable risks in your daily life. This does not mean placing yourself in dangerous situations: it simply means that you begin to push the limits of your comfort zone and gradually become comfortable with more stressful situations. The more you do this, the more likely you will perform better in encounters with problems of all types.
Your Assertive Rights: Another way in which confidence can be boosted is to be familiar with your assertive “rights.”
I have the right to:
1. Be treated with respect and to respect others.
2. Ask for explanations for things I do not understand.
3. Change my mind.
4. Make mistakes, be responsible for them, and learn from them.
5. Say “No” without feeling guilty.
6. Express anger, appreciation, and other feelings when and where I think appropriate.
7. Express my ideas and opinions and have them listened to.
8. Make reasonable requests, and the responsibility to acknowledge other’s rights to refuse.
9. Not assert myself.
10. Be paid what I’m worth.
Remember, a right is something that you are entitled to. It’s not a privilege. Remember also that rights need to be balanced with responsibilities. If we do not accept this balance, then assertiveness simply decays into aggression or selfishness. If you know what your assertive rights are and become determined that you will no longer have these rights violated, then you are well on the way to being a more confident and assertive person.