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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Some people take a more passive approach in life. Instead of confronting the source of their problems, passive people may let others walk all over them and then complain about it later. Passive people may also feel resentment for saying “yes” all the time to other people and not enough to themselves. Other people take an aggressive approach in life, putting their needs before everyone else’s without consideration for anyone.

A balance between being passive and being aggressive can mean taking an assertive approach. Being assertive means standing up for your ideas while also respecting other people’s ideas. Being assertive means understanding that you can’t get want you want or need without speaking up about it.

Assertiveness helps you strengthen your self-esteem, strengthen interpersonal relationships and resolve conflict in an efficient, effective and respectful way.

Here are 4 ways to be more assertive:

Be clear with your ideas

You are entitled to an opinion and if someone willingly asks you for it, you should get comfortable with expressing it with clarity.

Practice using “I” statements to sound less accusatory in disagreeing discussions. Switch out “You are wrong” with “I disagree.” “I” statements help you take ownership of what you are feeling without putting blame on the other person and respecting their ideas.

Don’t muddle your ideas with apologies or limitations. Instead of saying things like “I’m sorry but I just think we should go to this place for lunch,” say, “I want to go to this place for lunch.” It’s a simple change but it shows that you are able to get straight to the point and assert yourself.

Remember that “No” is a sentence

Just because you can do a favor doesn’t mean you have to. You don’t have to justify “no” with an explanation. “No” is a full sentence. Being assertive means being clear, and sometimes a big, whopping and clear “no” is the only thing people will understand.

Use proper body Language

Passive body language can make you come off as just that—passive. To be more assertive, you should carry yourself in a way that shows that confidence that you want to portray in your words. Examples of assertive body language include:

  • maintaining eye contact
  • keeping you head high and standing upright
  • talking loud and firm
Let Go of Guilt and the people-pleasing mindset

It may come across your mind that it was “rude” or “bad” to tell your friend that you weren’t going to hang out this weekend, or that you told your coworker you can’t cover their shift. Remember that being assertive is very beneficial for maintaining boundaries and self-care.

Your feelings and your time matter, and being assertive meaning letting go of guilt for not taking on things or commitments that were unnecessary, too much or simply something that you didn’t want to do.

Kaylah Young is a junior at VCU. She is majoring in Mass Communications with a concentration in Journalism, and she has a minor in Political Science. Kaylah has a passion for writing, reading books, and working out at the gym.
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