Most of us are living in a way that makes us quite dependant on the people around us. Unless you are stranded on a mountain in a cozy cabin with your wolf-dog, you can relate to that.
How you view yourself has a lot to contribute to the people you spend most of the time with. Often, you go with the flow to make others happy and to fit in your social circle just a bit better.
Meanwhile, you suppress your thoughts and emotions and don’t stand up for yourself in many situations. Without realizing it, you neglect yourself to such an extent that you let people disrespect, ignore and even belittle you.
You are not a doormat, and we want you to leave your pushover days behind you. Being assertive is not a choice. It is a need of every confident person. We will give you the eleven proven ways to help you learn how to say no, politely and assertively.
Let’s get into it!
#1 – Express Yourself & Be Authentic
We fear a lot of things when it comes to socialization:
- that people will reject us;
- that we will hurt others if we say the wrong thing;
- that we just won’t fit in, no matter what we do;
- and countless other hypothetical scary outcomes.
As a result, we hide our true thoughts and feelings behind a polite exterior. As long as we don’t go against the grain, people will like us. Will they?
The chances are – they are more likely never to get to know the real you. You will end up with many “friends” who barely know your true personality and don’t appreciate your authentic beauty.
Cut the problem in its roots and don’t make this mistake again!
You have the right to speak up if you feel the need to do so. You have the right to express your opinion and stay true to your beliefs.
However, it is important not to be defensive and rude while you stand up for yourself. Your goal is to be assertive, not aggressive. State your opinion openly and honestly and leave it at that. If people don’t like it, they are free to walk away, and so are you.
#2 – Be Assertive, Not Aggressive
It is vital to understand what assertiveness truly means and how to act appropriately.
There is a fine line between assertiveness and aggression, and you should not cross it. The main difference is how you treat other people while you stand up for yourself.
Aggressive people will attack and put others down to get what they want. Assertive people will state their thoughts openly and stand their ground without directly stepping on anyone else.
If you take an aggressive posture, you’re allowed on stage, and your mission is to get everyone else off.
─Randy J. Paterson
See the difference?
Being assertive means acknowledging other points of view, suggestions and understanding where they stand with their intentions. This approach gives you the power to express your perspective while respecting theirs.
You are always allowed to speak up for yourself as long as you are not putting anyone else down. Once you note this in your head, sticking to the habit of speaking up for yourself becomes a lot easier.
#3 – Set Clear Limits
Spend some time introspecting and try to figure out the boundaries in different areas of your life. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What types of behavior make me feel uncomfortable?
- What kinds of behavior interfere with my everyday peace?
- What kind of people do I want in my life?
- What kind of people do I want as far away from me as possible?
Once you start defining your limits, you have to be assertive once again and express them to people in your life. Tell them about your boundaries and clearly define what you feel uncomfortable with in various situations.
You shouldn’t be rude, but you should be clear when it comes to letting people know your likes and dislikes, unacceptable and acceptable behaviors.
The next time someone comes to you with something that crosses the line, they know what to expect from you.
#4 – Be (A Little) More Selfish
If you are reading this article, you probably spend most of the time with other people doing things to make them happy.
Even if you don’t realize it, there are countless little everyday things we do to please other people, even if it means going out of our way. While acknowledging other people and their needs is a great thing, everything has its limits.
A few questions that you can use to assess every decision you make that includes other people are:
- Am I doing this because I want it or because others think I should?
- Will I be unhappy or uncomfortable if I do this thing?
- Is the only reason for my decision my fear of saying no?
- Will I regret saying responding positively?
If a response to any of the questions above is positive, do not go with the flow! Say no whenever you feel like saying it.
You owe yourself time, happiness, and comfort.
#5 – Change Your Attitude Towards Yourself
If you have been a pushover for most of your life, you need to accept it and change something about that immediately.
Start doing things that make you feel more confident and happy about life. Learn how to treat yourself and feel better every day.
We aren’t even talking about big things here! It can be as small as politely asking someone not to cut the queue. It could even be asking someone to let you complete your sentence when they interrupt you.
We know that these things are hard and they require effort. However, the change has to begin with you. All these tiny steps will eventually lead you towards becoming an assertive, self-respecting person.
#6 – Speak and Act Deliberately
When you are confident, firm, and deliberate in your speech and your nonverbal gestures suggest the same, people understand what you want to say.
You cannot expect people to understand what you do not properly communicate.
When talking about important things, be very careful about the words you choose. Be natural, clear, and concise in your speech and actions.
We have written an article that will help you talk louder and clearer, so make sure to check it out.
However, speaking clearly will only get you so far. You also have to know exactly what you are going to say and make sure that you communicate your message well enough.
Think about your words before you speak. Take a few seconds to compose your sentence and say it out loud only when you know you will get the message across.
#7 – Practice Makes Perfect
As with all things in life, you can only get good at something if you do it often. Learning how to stand up for yourself is no different.
You might be wondering – how do you do that?
Begin the practice from your home. Try to convey your feelings in comfortable environments (like family or close friends gatherings) and get yourself heard.
Next, speak up in a larger group of friends. If someone tries to ridicule you for it or finds the change in your behavior weird, tell them you do not like how they are acting.
Find the courage to let everybody know that you do not feel comfortable with certain comments and that you would appreciate it if they stopped.
It sounds scary at first, and that’s because it is. But once you begin practicing assertiveness, you gradually learn how what you are doing is incredibly beneficial to your mental health and overall quality of life.
#8 – Do Not Use Excuses
The biggest giveaway that you are a people pleaser and that you do not know how to stand up for yourself are constant excuses.
Let’s see if you have this ugly habit:
- Do you often make up things you have to do when someone asks you out, but you don’t want to go?
- Do you feel like you always have to give a reason why you declined something?
- Do you think it is rude to just say no without further explaining yourself?
We know you feel personally attacked now. We’ve all been there.
There is no need to worry about it. Taking action is always the best thing you can do. Start right now by promising yourself that you will stop generating endless lists of excuses every time you want to avoid something.
If you do not feel comfortable – just say no. It is that simple.
The hard thing is not following up your no with a reason. Remember that you do not have to justify your actions to anyone. You do things the way you want because you live your life on your own terms.
#9 – Learn How to Deal with Difficult People
Some people always seem to get up on the wrong side of the bed. It has nothing to do with you, and it has everything to do with how they feel about life.
Their natural modus operandi is aggression.
These are the people who will try to belittle you and put you down at every opportunity.
The most important thing you can do is give them as little attention as possible. Avoid being overly reactive or rude towards them. This behavior will only further encourage them.
By now, you know your boundaries. Let them know that they are crossing them and that you will not tolerate that kind of behavior.
Make your point clear, and walk away.
Dealing with Passive-Aggressive Behavior
Some situations are more difficult than others, though. Passive-aggressive behavior is the hardest to deal with.
All of us have been in a position where someone took a jab at us, but very subtly. You couldn’t call it out since it wasn’t a direct attack, but you know there was malice behind it.
What should you do here?
Ask them to elaborate on what they mean. Act much dumber than you are and say that you do not understand what they mean.
Putting them on the spot will most often make them fumble over their words and create an uncomfortable situation for them. There are two things they can do here:
- They can openly say that they did mean to insult or belittle you, in which case you are free to respond accordingly.
- They can back down and pretend they didn’t say anything important, in which case their comment loses its purpose. Also, this will make it very likely they will repeat their behavior in the future.
If you misunderstood the situation and there weren’t any foul intentions behind the comment, nothing is lost. Carry on with the conversation with a good understanding of what happened.
#10 – Silence Can Be Your Weapon
Surprisingly, you can be assertive and not say a single word.
That doesn’t make any sense! Isn’t being assertive all about speaking your mind openly and confidently?
Yes, most of the time. However, you can use silence as a very powerful tool too.
Sometimes there are questions that you do not want to respond to. There are comments you would rather just ignore.
However, your people-pleasing habits will make you think it is not polite to ignore people. Quite the opposite – not responding is sometimes the best thing you can do.
Use silence to shut down uncomfortable situations before they even arise.
You do need to become experienced with this skill before you can use it successfully. Understanding the situation and knowing when to use silence and when to respond is always circumstantial. That’s why experience is the only thing that can teach you this skill properly.
#11 – Say No More Often
This is the simplest tip on this list.
Now, we are not asking you to become the opposite version of the Yes Man here.
What you should do is become comfortable with the word no itself. The more you say it, the less of a negative meaning it will have in your mind.
Learn to appreciate the beauty of being free. Recognize and value your ability to stand up for yourself no matter the position you are in.
We hope you have found our advice helpful.
Which of the tips above are you going to implement first?
Let us know in the comments below.