During my first semester in graduate school I worked for a high-end hair salon that quickly taught me a lesson in assertiveness. My not so kind manager (we won’t get into her) would have me sit in a “phone room” that was no smaller than an old-fashioned phone booth taking down appointments all day-this literally means ten hours. While I’m not going to elaborate much more on my lesson in assertiveness, the basic gist is just like that famous line -- “Nobody puts baby in a corner” from the movie Dirty Dancing, my line is that “Nobody puts Bri-Ann in a phone booth.” My point in bringing this up is that we all have boundaries and sometimes get put in situations that we need to assert them. Although being assertive is not something that most people in general feel comfortable with, it is sometimes necessary. Being passive can be a trigger for anxiety because you may feel stressed about holding in your thoughts and feelings. Below you can find some tips on how to be respectfully assertive:
Acknowledge your feelings: Allow yourself to feel the way you are feeling. Then try to recognize how the situation has contributed to these feelings. Once you have accepted your feelings then you can then think about what would make your current situation better.
Boundaries: Take some time to think about your personal boundaries. What are they? How is the situation is pushing them? It’s important to think about how far you will allow your boundaries to be pushed before communicating them assertively.
Communicate respectfully: The art to being assertive is to say what you feel and need without being rude or aggressive. If you go through each of the steps above, by the time you get to this step it should be easier to be assertive without being overly emotional. Remember to be straightforward and speak clearly. There is nothing wrong with communicating what you want to others as long as you are respectful.
Did you know that at A Little Counseling in Wake Forest our play therapy program addresses the topic of assertiveness and helps children and teens understand personal boundaries and the boundaries of others? We love to help everybody with their anxiety! Build confidence and know there is nothing you can’t handle -- assertiveness included. 😉