With Antonia Di Leo
Standing your ground isn’t always easy. No matter how confident you feel about something, being openly assertive with others when communicating your needs is an entirely different beast. So we called on Antonia Di Leo, licensed therapist and clinical director of Andrea Cornell Family Therapy for advice on how to be more assertive from day-to-day.
Here are some tips to help you learn to be more assertive:
1. Practice in the mirror
“If you’re normally a shy or passive person, it might be helpful to practice in a mirror before asserting yourself in an important situation,” Di Leo says. “Write out what you would like to say and practice saying it to yourself in the mirror so you communicate it more articulately when the time comes.
2. Prioritize, then communicate your needs
“In order to be more assertive with others, you must first be clear with yourself about your needs.” Says Di Leo, “Determine not only the point you’re trying to make, but also why you feel the need to express it so you can really get your point across when communicating.”
3. Know your worth (then add tax)
“It’s important to both understand and demonstrate your self-worth in situations where being assertive is necessary,” Di Leo says. “Maintain a positive tone and demeanor while communicating your point so you will look confident about what you’re saying.”
4. Take some deep breaths
“There’s a fine line between being assertive and aggressive.” Di Leo explains, “That’s why it’s important to approach the conversation calmly and if you start to feel yourself getting flustered or angry, pause to take a few deep breaths before continuing.”
5. Don’t beat yourself up about it
“If being assertive doesn’t come naturally to you, remember it might take more than a few attempts to effectively be able to assert yourself.” Says Di Leo, “Learning to be assertive is a skill—not something that comes naturally to everyone at all times–and like any other technique, takes patience and time to master.”
6. Talk to a professional
“If you are still having trouble asserting yourself, it might help to see a therapist to figure out where the issue stems from,” Di Leo says. “Sometimes there are some underlying fears and factors that are preventing you from being able to take a more assertive stance for yourself.”