Assertive Talk - With assertive talk we can make our needs known through language that is fair and justified. We do not want others to take advantage of us, but we can be respectful in the process. Examples of assertive talk include, "Excuse me but I need to leave for an appointment." "May I please have another cup of coffee?" or "Please turn down the radio." Or "This steak is well-done and I believe I asked for my steak to be medium."
Feeling Talk - If we can express our likes and dislikes more spontaneously, they will not get bottled up and grow in intensity. We want to be responsive though, and put a little thought into the expression. Again, we want to be fair and justified. Expressing positive emotion will be much easier, of course, than negative emotions. Examples: "Since you asked, I would prefer to go to the first restaurant you mentioned." Or "You look spectacular in that outfit!" or "I prefer not to drive too far in the dark, could we do something closer to home or would you mind driving?"
Greeting Talk - Be outgoing and friendly with those that you would like to know better. By having a few conversation starters in your pocket, it can be easy to approach others. Examples include, "I haven't seen you in ages, what's new with your family?" or "I know we have met before but I am not always so good at names, good evening, my name is ___________." Or "Last time we spoke, you were working for ___________, are you still with that company?" or "What a wonderful party. How do you know the host?"
Disagreeing - When you disagree with someone, do not just smile and nod your head as if in agreement with the person, as there are other options. You can change the topic. You can actively disagree with respect, as long as you have knowledge to back up your points. For example, "Good point John, but according to what I read yesterday, the statistics now state that the unemployment rate is lower than that." But what if you don't have a fact to back up your disagreement? What if you just feel differently? It is appropriate to just let someone know that while it is great that the other person feels a certain passion, others may feel differently, so can we just be appreciative that we are in a place where everyone's opinion is respected.
Asking Why - When there are situations where you are asked to do something you do not agree with or you have questions about, ask why you are being asked to do this. Inquire about the purpose of the task or the request. Be sure the person who is asking you to do something is in the authority to do so. Volunteers can be taken advantage of very easily if the ones in charge know that you will do anything that is asked. It is wonderful to offer your services to help, but putting a boundary in place early on can make a big difference in the enjoyment you receive from that volunteering.
Talking About Oneself - When you have accomplished something wonderful, don't be afraid to share that experience. There is no need to monopolize the conversation but just to say that you would like to share something that you are very proud of. This could inspire someone else to share something positive as well.
Agreeing With Compliments - Just say "Thank you." There is no need to discount a compliment. Most of us do not hear enough of what we do well, but we hear plenty of what we are doing wrong. Compliments can help us feel better about ourselves for sure.
Avoiding Trying to Justify Opinions - How do you handle when someone constantly disagrees with your opinion or dominates a conversation? Disagreements can be healthy but not when they are overpowering. It is possible to share an observation such as, "You truly have much to say on this topic or on every topic. Do you ever leave room to hear another opinion?" or "Is it possible that another opinion could be right as well?"
Looking People In the Eye - Try not to avoid looking others in the eye, with attentiveness, not with intimidation, though. Looking someone in the eye can demonstrate confidence in what you are saying or that you are listening to someone else by giving them your full attention.
Saying No -
Many of us struggle with saying no to something. Are we letting others down? We fear someone will no longer be our friend if we say no. Being assertive means helping others, but also putting boundaries up so that we don't get over-committed. I am not always fun to be around when I have over-committed. Knowing your own limits helps tremendously here. Offer an explanation if you have to say no to something. For example, "I will have to decline participation as that does not fit into my schedule at the moment." Or, "I am not available on Tuesday, but if you have time on Friday, that would work for me." Another good phrase is, "I fully support what you are doing, but is there another way I might be able to help?"
While this has been a lot of information to digest, I suggest you try one approach each month to see which ones work for you. Not all may work for you. Only one may feel comfortable for you. Either way, being a little more assertive in your verbal responses to others can help to create strong and balanced boundaries with others so that you are not taken advantage of and you are not overbooked. This doesn't mean to never say yes, but to be choosy with what you say yes to and what you choose not to be a part of because it does not fit your goals, your beliefs or your day.
Good luck in asserting yourself with respect.