“How to be assertive?” many abused women asked me this question, when I suggested them standing up for themselves. Today I will give you seven tips which are proven and can change your life
1. Use the Word “I”
If you want to show assertive behaviour, avoid using “you”, because this stops you from allowing control of the listener. Using omniscience removes the power of the speaker, you, because “you” is only used to express indecisiveness. When you use “me”, you communicate your feelings and avoid the defensive attitude of your partner. If he does not listen and respect your statements, beliefs, then time has come to make a move – have a serious chat or even consider leaving him. As I said in one of my previous chapters – watch his actions, not words.
2. Have the Assertive Posture
Your posture is crucial; it will communicate if you can stand for yourself or are submissive. Think of yourself stretching from your head to your toes, sitting or standing. Pay attention to the neck, shoulder and upper back regions. Keep your back upright and your shoulder pushed back naturally. You should not be tense, but you should be mindful of your body and its composure.
3. Be Mindful of Your Voice
If you are too soft, the other person will think you are trying to hide and may ignore you. If you are too loud, the other person may become scared or vexed by your voice. This is critical in case of abuse. But sometimes you have to pace the abuser, I mean to speak as loud as him – to show him, that you are not afraid of his voice anymore and to be heard at all. On the other hand, speaking in a calm and quieter way just after raising the voice will bring his voice down, to speak calmer and quieter.
4. Maintain Eye Contact
I know it is hard. You might feel so much resentment to your partner or to be so afraid that looking straight into his eyes is the last thing which you want to do. But believe me, only straight staring at your listeners’ eyes when speaking will show that you are not afraid of his anger, abusive acts, threats or other kinds of manipulation. Averting your eyes always or having no eye contact altogether will show timidness or discomfort.
5. Avoid Ambiguity
Explain yourself thoroughly. Avoid creating obscure responses. In the case of abuse, explicit statements are crucial as he can use your words to manipulate you later “You’ve said that so I…”
Bear also in mind that men do not like ambiguity at all, this may make him even angrier and more aggressive towards you. Even if you are frightened, say clearly what you mean.
6. Use Assertive Language
Do not swear or talk rudely. Obscenities do not show assertiveness. Instead, it shows crude behaviour and irresponsibility of your understanding. Be also careful about the tone of your voice. Keep it moderated. Even if he swears, make an effort to be different and show him that you are not like him. If he swears to insult you, never reply back in the same way. Instead, express your disapproval and demand respect. If he denies, you know that time has come to make serious decisions and changes in your life.
7. Express Body Language
In general, make gestures that give a sense of warmth and openness on your behalf; open palms, circular arm movements, smiles, wrinkles of the nose can help. This may be difficult when you are abused, yet works very well and doing so you will achieve your goal of setting healthier boundaries.