Do you feel like someone could be taking advantage of you and your tender-hearted, good nature? Ouch! Not something we want to experience right?
We live in a time and a society where we’re being encouraged to be assertive, by unapologetically owning our authenticity and standing our ground when it comes to our truths, beliefs, preferences, and values. We’re being guided to be compassionate, by showing altruism, selflessness, and unification with others. This can lead to much confusion on how to balance self-love and self-confidence, alongside the acts of love, kindness, and acceptance of others.
The Cambridge English Dictionary definition of ‘assertive’: Someone who is assertive behaves confidently and is not frightened to say what they want or believe.
So a key question would be:
Is it possible to be both assertive and compassionate in your relationships with others?
The answer?: ABSOLUTELY!
You’re 100% capable of standing your ground with love while staying true to yourself within any relationship. With that said, it is not uncommon for your caring and nurturing behavior to be perceived as weak. A weakness that others can sometimes exploit either consciously or unconsciously. Understandably, these types of situations may leave you unsure of how to react.
However, you have the ability to think and act assertively, by being in control of your feelings. If you think positively, you will respond positively. Therefore, to act assertively, you need to think assertively. This powerful shift in mindset will prepare you for having healthy and authentic relationships with others. More importantly, for this to be effective, it’s essential to have a sense of your own worth; you need high levels of self-esteem, which comes from valuing yourself and also others.
Don’t confuse assertiveness for aggressiveness. There’s a fundamental difference!
Aggressiveness: When you deem your needs are more important than the needs of others. You try to get what you want using bullying, intimidation, threats, and manipulation tactics.
Assertiveness: You ask for what you want directly, openly and appropriately with confidence, while taking consideration for the needs of others. You’re honest and stand for your values.
Here are three tips on how to be assertive and compassionate in your relationships without being taken advantage of:
1. Set Your Boundaries & Speak Your Truth
Be courageously in control when dealing with others and situations, by deciding what you want from your connections with others and standing up for what you want or believe. You have a voice, and it’s perfectly acceptable to use it. If you’re not speaking up for yourself, this will lead to more stress and conflict.
There’s a strong possibility that “self-talk” is likely stopping you from speaking up. It’s not always easy to be aware of this chatter, because the speed of thinking in our subconscious mind is many thousand times faster than thinking in our conscious. A lot of the time, this self-talk is negative. Have you found yourself saying any of the following statements?
· I don’t want to make a fuss or cause an argument
· What’s the use? It’ll never change
· I feel I’ll be a burden on others
· I don’t want to come across as needy
· I’m afraid they’ll reject me if I speak up for myself
· I feel guilty if I say no
If you’ve found yourself saying any of these types of negative self-talk declarations to yourself, you’re likely to be feeling helpless, bitter, guilty, fed up and generally unhappy. It’s time to switch that limiting, unhelpful self-talk for a new healthy, empowering one! Is it possible to speak your truth and stay within your boundaries while keeping your self-esteem and respect for others intact?
It sure is!
Ultimately, setting your boundaries is about taking responsibility for who you are, your identity, your values and what you care about. You speak your truth with conviction, integrity, and dignity. You choose the battles you deem worth fighting in your relationships wisely.
Additionally, you manage your expectations and the expectations of others by understanding the vision you have for your relationships and the impact you want to have in your connections. You have an understanding of what others care about and what you need to master in order to connect fully with others.
2. Identify The Assertive & Compassionate Communication Behaviors Required
Watch your language! Our words are powerful and have lingering energy that can be remembered long after being spoken. This is why it’s crucial to be immaculate with your words and point them in the direction of compassion and truth.
Aggressive words like: “Don’t do that,” “You must,” “I don’t care,” “What do you think you are doing?”, “Why did you do that?”, “If you do not do this…”, “You need to do this or…” take you out of a benevolent, grounded state.
Whereas words like: “Tell me more,” “What do you think?”, “It’s awkward, I know…”, “I would like to xxx. How does that affect you?” are much more assertive and compassionate.
When you’re confidently asserting yourself in a way that mitigates conflict for the highest good of everyone involved, you’re standing in your power!
So be sure to express your thoughts and feelings in a clear, direct, positive and honest way. Keep thinking positively and assertively, even if a situation is challenging. Listen attentively and empathetic to others with an open mind, to be truly able to see and feel the situation from the other person’s position.
Body Language also plays a huge part in the way you communicate with others. A lot can be said for what you’re doing when you speak. Are you aware of how your postures, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact (or lack of) might be perceived by others? Are you falling foul to typical aggressive body language such as pointing a finger, waving a finger or arms or crossing your arms? What about your eye contact? Do you have a sarcastic or intense gaze on? Are you leaning forward infringing on someone’s personal space? Do you place your hands on your hips, clench your fists, turn away, frown or have pursed lips?
Or, are you displaying assertive and compassionate body language such as nodding your head to show you’re listening and having steady direct good eye contact? Are you holding an alert, upright and open posture? Do you smile when appropriate? Are your hands palms-up rather than fists?
3. Understand Personality Types
Have you sometimes thought why do people do the things they do? How come you find it easier to connect with some people and not so much with others? Despite the fact that there will be many commonalities between you and others, you’re ultimately different people. We have different personality types, which influence our preferred way of thinking and the natural, intuitive way we behave and deal with people and situations.
For instance, there’s a strong and quiet type and then others that are more outspoken and dominant. Some people are more logical and others are more of the caring and supportive type. Having an awareness of personality types is important and there are many personality profiling tools that can be found online that will give you greater insight and deeper understanding of this. When you can identify your strengths and what motivates you, as well as those of others, you will be able to manage your relationship with them regardless of the personality differences. Furthermore, you can communicate with them in an assertive and compassionate way that feels good for them.
Balancing assertiveness with compassion is a talent that can be developed. All of the above tips will help you learn quite a bit about yourself and other people. Yes, there is a chance that people may try to take advantage of you, but when you can form a strong understanding and awareness of what’s going on with the energy and intentions of others, you’ll strengthen your character so much so that you won’t let that happen.
“Sensitivity is a sign of strength. It’s not about toughening up, it’s about smartening up.” – Marie Forleo
Know that there’s true strength in holding things together. When you smarten up, you’ll intuitively know who is genuinely in need of your help, support, and assistance. As a result, since like attracts like, you’ll find that you’ll easily start building authentic connections with others who will respect you for your ability to be bold and confident, alongside being sincere, empathetic and open-minded. Over time, you may also witness that other people will start to act assertively and compassionate towards you. A win-win situation!
I truly hope you found this article of value. I would love to hear your thoughts. What was one of your key takeaways from reading this? Do you feel assertiveness and compassion can go hand-in-hand? Could you benefit from being more assertive? Please do let me know in the comments box below!