How to be assertive in business

A successful entrepreneur is an assertive one. Being assertive means you have courage in your convictions and stand up for what you believe in. Assertive people are respected and feel secure in their actions. They know how to say ‘no’ and aren’t afraid to stand by their decisions.

Assertive people always do well in the business world because they know how to communicate effectively and earn respect. So how do you become assertive as well? The following tips should help...

Learn the difference between aggression and assertiveness

Being assertive means you stand up for yourself and your beliefs without impacting another person. It allows you to be open, honest and direct when talking about your feelings and opinions.

In contrast, being aggressive means you disregard other people’s feelings. It means you can belittle, anger, frustrate or hurt others. You use communication that is aggressive and gains a defensive response.

Being assertive is positive and will only encourage other people to react in a reasonable and mature manner. In business, it is the best way to behave for effective communication.

Avoid aggression

As we've already covered, there's a fine line between aggressive and assertive behaviour. But there are things you can do to avoid aggression. For example, you can get on the same level as the other person, i.e. standing or sitting. You can also speak at the same volume. You can be more self-aware – recognise your own feelings, i.e. if you sense you’re becoming angry, take deep breaths and postpone the conversation.

Ditch the shyness

Shy people are often submissive and inhibited, something that isn’t attractive in business. To be assertive means you are confident and aren’t afraid to speak up.

If you are shy, find ways to overcome it. Consider various difficult scenarios and how you would tackle them. Practice speaking out loud in front of a mirror and become comfortable with the sound of your own voice. Throw yourself into situations you’d normally avoid. Do anything to boost your confidence to become more assertive.

Gain self-belief

The most important trait of a successful entrepreneur is self-belief. Because if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. People who have strong self-belief are confident, charming and incredibly passionate about what they do. Believe in yourself and you will have clients begging to do business with you.

Become informed

One of the best ways to become more assertive is by knowing your subject matter inside out. It doesn’t matter if you’re preparing for a meeting, a pitch or a speech – if you’re not prepared, you’ll only crumble. What the scenario or challenge, remember that the more you know, the more confident and assertive you’ll be.

Speak up and stand tall

No one likes a mouse, so remember to speak up and believe in what you’re saying. You don’t have to shout; you just have to be confident, firm and strong. Always consider your body language and ensure you’re coming across as open, calm and confident.

Be positive

Assertive people are always positive, never negative. They always voice their opinions without disregarding the feelings of others. During a discussion, assertive people will always talk about their own positive points of view, rather than belittle others. They’ll adopt open and friendly body language and be someone people like and trust.

Be inspired by those you admire

Model your behaviour on the assertive and confident people you look up to. Observe what they do. Consider their body language. Understand what they say and how they say it. By studying people who have relevant traits you’ll be inspired and learn how to become a more assertive person.