Be the Boss of Your Life – How being assertive can help you get what you want out of life
When I walked into the room, I had no idea why I was there. Two strangers sat with my colleagues prepared to sell me on something I had never even seen before. Impatiently, I explored the website of Company X (omitted to protect privacy) while they spoke a bit about their services.
Annoyed that no one had prepared me better for this conversation, I asked dozens of questions. Often, I interrupted the owner of the company to clarify answers and to really dig down into why their solution would be ideal for my current employer. I’m sure it felt a bit like an interrogation, but there was an ulterior motive.
What was actually happening during the conversation is that my mind was reeling. As they told me more, I became increasingly convinced. The owner had landed on a gold mine of a service and not only did I think it was a legitimate investment for my current employer, but I also personally wanted to be part of its future.
After spending some time going back and forth with ideas about how I personally would turn this solution into a billion dollars, I decided I needed to take my future into my own hands. Why sit around and just wonder about this dream job? So, I took to LinkedIn to find the owner and make an introduction.
Being assertive has never been my forte, but as the old saying goes, “the worst thing that could happen is he says no.” I took the risk and sent him a short and simple message – I told him I loved the service and had some ideas about how it could grow.
Shockingly, he messaged me back almost immediately. He asked me to jump on a conference call to discuss further, he was intrigued by my outreach and my suggestions.
We got on that conference call, which then led to more conversations the following weeks. Eventually, we both settled on a job that I would be perfect for at Company X and I would be one of the first few people to help build the company into something greater.
Finding Your Assertion
I’d argue that this dream job wouldn’t have been possible had I been passive and sat on my desire to reach out to the owner of Company X. Sure, he could have seen something in me that day and reached out on his own and to ask me about my interest in the company, but that’s highly unlikely.
Being passive assumes that things will just happen to us. That’s not how life works. Rather, when we’re assertive, we can explain what we want, suggest the outcome we hope to receive, and we can set ourselves up for a potential win.
Assertiveness is a communication style that is fundamental to pursuing personal and professional success. Without assertive communication, we can miss out on opportunities. We have to be our own advocates for progress.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to be assertive. It’s much more comfortable to be passive. So, there are a few things that can help cultivate a more assertive communication style.
1. Practice the art of saying “I would like…”
Using the phrase to express what you want in a polite way shows that you’re not being too aggressive and it’s a small step toward asserting yourself. By doing this, you’re taking an active approach to share how you feel.
2. When you feel nervous about expressing your feelings, write them down instead.
Take the first step toward sharing how you feel by writing it down. Planning what you want to say and having the opportunity to hone your message first can help you feel more confident.
3. Practice in the mirror.
It can be difficult saying what you feel or want and actually achieving the tone of the message. While your words may say one thing, your facial expressions or body language may say another. Practicing in the mirror can help you be more confident with your communication.
Facing Your Fears
It’s not uncommon to be nervous about reaching out to someone about a job offer or a recommendation. In fact, if you’re not great at being assertive, then reaching out to someone for something that you want can feel debilitating.
There’s vulnerability involved with networking, and it has a lot to do with rejection. Many people are afraid of being turned away and rejected. It’s natural to want to be accepted and told yes.
Why would we enjoy or willingly put ourselves out there to be told no? Realistically, life requires a lot of no’s before we can be told yes.
In the direct selling world, an industry I’ve worked in on the corporate side for several years, I’ve learned that the cornerstone of a successful leader is someone who can take rejection. It becomes part of “the game” for these successful players and I’ve watched many of them become millionaires.
Once you learn to accept rejection, you can more quickly recover from it and move on to the next prospect. Compare it to your own networking throughout your career. Think about it, we’re all the direct sellers of our skills and assets.
When you are job searching or looking for your next investor as an entrepreneur, you need to be able to sell yourself and what you have to offer. It may take several tries to find someone who is interested, so you get ready to face that rejection.
A simple way to overcome that fear is repetition. The more you experience something, the more you will feel comfortable in the process. So, speak up, face the rejection, and repeat the process like you would if you were washing your hair.
To be the boss of your life, be assertive, own your next move and take rejection like there are millions of opportunities waiting for you.