How to be Assertive Without Offending or Causing Violence

Young family with a baby standing by the wall

By nature, most of us are people pleasers. That is to say that we want to be liked and the easiest seeming way to do that is by agreeing and not ‘making a fuss’.
In the long run however, this is not a good strategy. Because eventually, this method means that people are likely to start taking your easy-going nature for granted. It means that you’re unlikely to get things your way all that often. And eventually, this all means that you’re highly likely to start to feel a little resentment toward people.
In other words, it pays every now and then to stand up for yourself and to be assertive. That means telling people what you want, telling people when things have gone too far and generally being a little more honest about your feels.
So how do you do that?
Getting Attention
The first thing to do, is to get the attention of the person or people with whom you wish to speak. There is a time and a place to make your stand and if you get this wrong, then you are only going to end up making things awkward. Suddenly announcing in a group setting that you feel picked on can make for a bit of a scene!
Instead, take one or two people to one side at a moment when you know you’ll have some privacy and when you have more control over the situation and the variables.
Then make sure that they are listening to you. That means saying you need to talk to them and trying to hold their gaze.
Know What You Want
If you’re going to try and change a situation, then you need to have a clear goal for what you want. Complaining or generally making a fuss can make you look a little emotionally volatile, which is not our aim here. Instead, go in with a clear idea of what you want and how you’re going to get it. If you want your friends to stop teasing you with a certain nickname then just ask for that. If you want your partner to start picking up after themselves, then ask for that.
Be Firm But Fair
Now is not the time to point fingers, to blame people, or to generally be confrontational. Take personal relationships out of the matter and remember to focus on the goal. To that end, ask for what you want and take the stance that the person you are talking to has made a mistake or didn’t realize they were frustrating you.
Make Sure You’re Clear
Finally, it’s always a good idea to make sure that the person you’ve spoken to is clear on the situation and that you’re all on the same page. A good way to do this is to ask them to repeat back to you what you’ve asked them to do, or to ‘promise’. And make sure that they have your eye contact when they do.
Citizen Coaching and Counselling provides one to one, couples and family counselling in Birmingham from our counselling centres in Birmingham City Centre and Jewellery Quarter. We have a number of counsellors that specialise in this work who can help you through difficult times. We have appointments available seven days a week – including evenings and at weekend daytimes.