One of the most important social skills that you can ever learn is how to stand up for yourself. If you don’t know how to stand up for yourself, not only will this make it hard to get what you want in life, but other people around you will be confused about your goals and motivations.
Standing up for yourself doesn’t mean that you have to stop being kind to other people. There’s definitely a difference between being assertive and being a jerk! If you know how to stand up for yourself, you’ll actually end up being less of a jerk because it’s easier to be nice to people when you’re not walking around with a lot of unfulfilled needs.
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When you stand up for yourself, all this means is that you’re being a clear communicator. It’s about more than getting what you personally want; it’s about doing the right thing, even when other people disagree with you.
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- Knowing where your boundaries are and being able to tell people
- Letting people know what you’re willing to tolerate and not tolerate, and truly enforcing that
- Being honest about what you actually want and need
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- Getting angry easily
- Being a jerk
- Taking whatever you want whenever you want
- Walking all over others
- Ignoring people’s needs
Knowing how to stand up for yourself means that you’re not afraid of other people’s opinions. You simply do what’s right for you–and what’s right for the people in your life–out of principle more than out of the desire to be liked.
Being assertive and learning how to stand up for yourself means that you have a sense of self-worth. You know that you deserve to be treated with respect and you show that to other people through your actions, not just through words. Standing up for yourself means enforcing the boundaries that you’ve set no matter what.
For example, let’s say that you have a boss at your job who is unfair to you. Perhaps she micromanages you and calls you in on your days off. Perhaps she even demands that you do things that are against company policy in order to meet deadlines or make her job easier. Standing up for yourself would mean putting your foot down in this kind of situation and telling her that you simply won’t give in to her demands. If someone is being unfair, it rarely pays to indulge them. Not only will they walk all over you, they’ll feel braver about walking all over the next person they come across.
This means that sometimes you might find that knowing how to stand up for yourself will put you in an awkward situation. Indeed, there may be times that you have to take social risks to be assertive. You could lose friends or lose favor with someone in a position of power. You’ll have to ask yourself, though: is being liked by one unreasonable person worth the headache of having your boundaries crossed again and again?
Over time, you might be surprised to find that people actually like you more if you stand up for yourself.
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It’s important to know how to stand up for yourself because otherwise, you’re unlikely to get your needs met. Most people are not mind readers, so if you simply hang around waiting for them to know what you want by dropping hints, you probably won’t get what you want.
This is especially true if you’re dealing with a bully or someone who is making all kinds of unreasonable requests. If you don’t stand up for yourself early on in your relationship with someone abusive or difficult, whether it’s a personal or a professional relationship, you’re slowly training the person to not respect you. Their behavior will just get worse because you’re basically giving them permission to treat you badly by not defending yourself.
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Like any other skill, being assertive takes practice. You may not know how to stand up for yourself or you may be out of practice. Luckily, there are a lot of practical ways that you can start to cultivate assertiveness in your professional and personal life. Here are some tips that you can implement right away:
Before you can tell anyone what you really want, you have to be clear with yourself about what your needs really are. Sometimes we think we want one thing, and really we want something else.
For example, maybe your coworker keeps playing their music too loudly from the cubicle next door. Your first reaction might be to think that they’re being extremely inconsiderate and disrespectful. You want your coworker to respect your space. If you dig deeper, though, you might find that the real issue is that you have a hard time concentrating and that the noise distracts you from your work.
You can then communicate this to someone without making it personal, which is much more effective than acting insulted about perceived disrespect. Looking inside of yourself first will ensure that you’re addressing the right issue.
It can be hard to stay unemotional when someone is really going out of their way to bother you, but getting angry will simply make communication harder. Anger causes people to get defensive, and your goal is not to scare the people around you. All that you want to do is have them understand your needs so that they know to respect your boundaries.
When you’re communicating these needs and boundaries to other people, try to stick to the facts of the situation. Avoid sounding judgmental or telling other people that what they’re doing is “wrong.” Just because you don’t like something, doesn’t mean it’s “wrong” in every context, after all; it’s just that it crosses a personal line for you.
Sometimes being assertive can also mean being forgiving. Someone might not have known that they crossed a line with you the first time. Show that person that you respect them by having the courage to calmly make your needs clear.
Don’t be ambiguous about what you want. Don’t beat around the bush or throw hints because you’re too afraid to make your real desires clear. This just leads to getting less of what you actually want and more of what you don’t want. Think of the world around you as a genie in a magic lamp: you have to be specific with your requests or else your desires can be easily misunderstood!
For instance, if you’ve been dating someone for a while and you’re unsure about where you stand with them, be assertive enough to ask! Don’t just sit around waiting for them to make the first move. You can even tell them exactly what you’re looking for in a connection. This way, you can determine if you’re a good match for each other. Too many relationships suffer because one or both parties are wasting their time putting on a face.
Did someone do something that you felt was way out of line? Did you go complain about to some other friend of yours or through vague posts on social media? Did the problem somehow never get solved?
Complaining is for people who don’t know how to stand up for themselves! People who can actually get their needs met don’t have to complain because they don’t feel powerless.
It’s true that we can’t always control other people’s behavior. You might tell someone that you don’t like something they did and they could easily ignore you. Most people will listen, though. You’d be surprised how many misunderstandings can be cleared up simply by having the courage to be assertive and clear.
When someone does something hurtful or rude, tell them the first time. Don’t quietly seethe until all your bottled up emotions explode. If you act too emotional, then that just makes the person less likely to listen to you when you’re finally being honest.
Did someone ask you to do something,and your first reaction was to think “No way!”? Well, then tell them! Don’t allow that “no” that you feel deep inside yourself to get watered down with a bunch of ambiguous explanations. You can always explain yourself afterwards if the person asks for more, but remember that just a simple “no” is enough. You don’t need a reason to say no; the fact that you don’t resonate with something is reason enough.
You may be tempted to add a lot of extra justifications to get the other person to agree with you, but keep in mind that people who need a lot of convincing probably don’t care about your reasons. Often, if someone demands reasons they’re just stalling or trying to manipulate you into changing your mind. Just tell them no. A good friend or colleague will respect a polite no and leave it at that.
It’s not just a one way street. When other people are assertive with you, then you know where you stand. Being assertive doesn’t mean that you’re constantly at odds with other people, as long as you have a social circle that is mature enough to respect your opinions no matter what while also being able to assert their own at the same time. Actually, when your friends feel comfortable enough to offer their real ideas and opinions without censoring themselves, you will find that your relationships are more authentic.
If you catch your friend being shy about asking for what they want, or giving you all kinds of excuses and explanations, then let them know upfront that you won’t judge them for being assertive. Being clear about your needs and knowing how to stand up for yourself is a skill that is contagious. If you see other people doing it every day, then your brain will catch on and you will form the habit of being more assertive.
Being assertive just means that you’re being honest in a respectful way. One of the foundational keys to good relationships is honesty, so it makes sense to surround yourself with honest people who know how to set good boundaries.
Being assertive is important! It can mean the difference between living the life you were meant to live and spending your days forcing yourself to do what other people want.
You came into this world to follow your own path, and you have every right to tell someone no if they ask you to go against what you think is right.
This can apply to all kinds of areas of your life, but it’s most important when it comes to your values. Are you living your authentic life, or are you following other people’s standards by default? Are you doing the kind of work that you align with, or do you allow other people’s opinions to dictate what you do with your time?
As you can see, knowing how to stand up for yourself is a way of life, not just something that you do every once in a while. Not being assertive enough means that you’re not being yourself on a consistent basis, and that will wear on your over time.
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Knowing how to stand up for yourself can take many forms, and it’s a critical skill for both your professional and your personal life. If you’re too afraid to be assertive, then you may find yourself trapped in a life that you didn’t choose for yourself. The people around you will always have opinions, and some of those can indeed be valuable, but the person who should ultimately decide where your life will lead is you. Don’t be so afraid of conflict that you’re afraid to be yourself!