Featured School Psychology

Actions Over Attitude

August 29, 2017

We all want to be confident in ourselves and in our actions.  However, in certain situations this can be difficult.  This can negatively impact our assertiveness and decrease our chances of doing and saying what we want to.  My hope is the following information and strategies can help you next time you need a little confidence boost to be assertive.

Confidence is more about your actions than your attitude.  You are confident when you take action to get yourself closer to your desires even though you might be fearful or anxious about taking that step.  I like to make myself more confident by making sure I am wearing clothes I feel comfortable and beautiful in.  If you’ve ever accidentally over or under dressed to an event you can probably remember how that drained your confidence.  Also, by purposely paying attention to your physical stance you can boost your confidence.  When I am slouched over with my arms crossed, I likely don’t feel or look very confident.  But if I stand up tall with my arms at my sides and my head high I will likely start to feel and appear confident.  You can even practice in front of a mirror to see what a difference this visually makes.  Mentally, it helps me to remember a time where I was truly confident and the day went well this helps put me at ease and increases my current confidence.

While confidence and assertiveness are similar, they are both different.  You need confidence to assert your thoughts, wants, needs, and ideas.  It can be easy at first to be passive and go along with others, but this also makes it easier for someone to take advantage of you.  Of course there is a time and place for everything and some situations are more important or intense than others.  These suggestions are meant to help you be more assertive in the situations where you give in to being passive when you really want to voice your own opinions.

Sometimes I think being a female from the south you are taught to be respectful and polite.  However, you can still voice your thoughts and needs while still being respectful of others.  One way to do this is to just simply state your need.  Don’t add a lot of detail or explanation just directly and calmly make it known.  For example, “I have a doctor’s appointment today and need to leave at 3 p.m.”

If a compromise needs to happen suggest your solution but also be empathetic and include the other person’s perspective or dilemma.  For example, “I know you were really looking forward to a relaxing night, but I really need to work on this project that is due tomorrow.  What if we go see that new movie you’ve been talking about tomorrow night?”

If there was a previously agreed upon decision but new information is contradictory, you can simply state it was your previous understanding that ABC was XYZ so now you need it to be clarified so all can move forward. For example, “From my understanding, you wanted to go to dinner on Thursday but now you are saying we need to meet Wednesday morning.  I can’t rearrange my schedule at this time so we need to discuss a convenient time for us both in the future.”

If you’ve ever attended counseling, especially pre-marital counseling you’ve probably learned about “I statements.”  These statements can be useful when you have negative or hurt feelings towards someone.  Instead of saying “You really hurt my feelings when you interrupted me.” you can say, “I felt like my thoughts weren’t important when you started talking in the middle of my story.”  You can add on to your statement with a suggestion on how they can handle the situation in the future.  For example, “Next time please let me finish my thought before you speak.”  These statements help take the blame off of the other person and really get the point of how you are feeling.  The focuses shifts from someone doing wrong to two people planning on how to fix the issue for the future.

Sometimes we get nervous and lose confidence by trying to hide something we are embarrassed of like being anxious about giving a presentation.  If you’re like me you might start to sweat, cheeks turn rosy, and your voice might quiver.   When I worry about this it takes a lot of mental energy so instead of keeping it inside my head I can be assertive and make a simple statement acknowledging my feelings and reactions to others.  This can help me move on more quickly and gain confidence.

You might need to start small and with close family and friends with your new found confidence and assertiveness.  You can also role-play with a trusted person to practice your assertiveness skills and statements. The more you practice it the easier it will be to do at work, with new people, and in more intense situations.  Also, don’t forget when you are revealing your ideas and thoughts you are opening up for others to do the same.  This can start a more intense conversation but should end in a more agreeable solution for all.

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