Midlife Musings: Peggy Bell
Assertiveness is an important skill for effective communication as an adult. Assertiveness allows you to advocate for yourself and your needs in a healthy way.
Yet, some women have difficulty when it comes to being assertive. Why is that? Some reasons could be a lack of self-confidence or self-worth. For others, it could stem back to the stereotypical days when women were seen as passive, while men were seen as more aggressive. And still, for others, it could be one’s upbringing and what was taught to them and made to become part of their belief system. Whatever the reason, it is important for women to be assertive.
This was something I had difficulty with for most of my life. I was deep into midlife before I was able to speak up for myself. Before that, I was such a pushover. I knew I was and I disliked being that way. When I finally had enough, I learned how to change it. If you are having difficulty setting your boundaries and speaking up for yourself, you can become assertive as well. It’s never too late to learn this important skill.
What Is Assertiveness?
Assertiveness is an interpersonal skill. It demonstrates your confidence and allows you to advocate for your needs, desires, and boundaries while being respectful towards others. You are taking care of yourself by looking out for yourself.
“It is ok to say “No”- No is a statement. It is not necessary to add to the word by giving an explanation.
So How Do You Become Assertive?
Below are ways in which you can become assertive in your beliefs and desires.
- Ask for what you want or need respectfully. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want but remember to ask in a respectful manner.
- It is ok to say “No”. No is a statement. It is not necessary to add to the word by giving an explanation.
- Speak your mind. Let people know what you will or will not tolerate from others. Set those boundaries for yourself.
- Remember that you are not responsible for the other party’s response. You have no control over how the person will respond. In fact, how they respond is their business, not yours, so don’t fret over it.
- You have a right to your feelings. However, Your feelings may differ from someone else’s. We are not all cut from the same cloth so why would everyone’s feelings be the same?
- “I” statements when speaking. Using “I” statements when speaking allows us to take ownership of our thoughts and feelings.
Keep in mind that you can definitely be assertive without being rude. Tact is a thing. So is delivery. How you advocate for your needs can make a difference in how it is received. You can be assertive without being aggressive or impolite. At times people may take assertiveness as rudeness when it is not. This is not your responsibility. Stay calm, keep it positive and constructive, but speak your needs.
“You want others to listen to you. Be open to listening to what the other person has to say as well.”
Don’ts To Become More Assertive:
There are some things you will want to avoid when practicing to become more assertive.
- Placing blame. Placing blame will put the other person on the defensive and you may be seen as aggressive instead of assertive.
- Sharing your wants and needs in a confrontational or aggressive manner. You want to be calm, have good posture, make eye contact and be clear on what you are saying without shouting or yelling.
- Being unwilling to hear the other person out. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. You want others to listen to you. Be open to listening to what the other person has to say as well.
Assertiveness comes easy for some and is an anxiety-inducing challenge for others. The thing is, the more you do it the easier it gets. If being assertive does not come naturally for you, start small. Practice stating your opinions in lower fidelity situations first. Gain confidence as you go. Don’t apologize for stating your wants and needs. Know your boundaries and beliefs on bigger issues and be ready to peacefully and proactively advocate for your needs. You’ll be glad you did
About the Author:
Peggy Bell is a Midlife Coach for women who want to move forward past loss to find purpose and joy in this new season of life. She is also a public speaker, author, and course creator. She launched her business, Live Your Purpose, after retiring from a forty-year teaching career, just in time for her sixtieth birthday.
Peggy is the author of five books, with her sixth soon to be released. Her work has been published in such places as Thrive Global, Women’s World, and Open to Hope to name a few. Peggy invites you to join her Facebook community.