Women face a conundrum in today’s competitive world. They are typically seen as soft and weak, but the minute they speak up for themselves, they’re labeled “bossy.”
Or worse, “bitchy.”
But there’s a way to fight for what you want without getting messy. It’s called assertiveness.
Assertive women have nailed that balance of being firm and proactive while being respectful.
If you’re struggling to find your voice, no worries. I’m here with a list of things assertive women do.
Hopefully, they will come in handy as you begin cultivating the art of speaking up and standing up for yourself.
Let’s get started!
1) They speak their minds
Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to say something but was scared of the possible consequences? Or wanted to disagree with someone but didn’t want to deal with conflict?
I’ve been there and I completely understand how hard it can feel, especially if you’re conflict-averse.
But here’s the thing: as a woman, you can’t afford not to speak up.
Assertive women know what they want, and they know that the only way to get it is by clearly expressing their ideas and needs.
And they don’t shy away from conflict. They understand that conflict is sometimes unavoidable, but there are ways to be heard without resorting to drama.
This leads me to my next point…
2) They are respectful
The key to avoiding drama while speaking up is by choosing the right words and tone.
Assertiveness doesn’t mean you go full-blast and say whatever you want. There’s a certain degree of finesse – a balance of firmness and respect.
That’s what assertive women do. They make their feelings known with a polite yet confident tone. Here are some examples of the ways they frame their statements:
- “I see things differently.”
- “I appreciate your input, but I have a different idea.”
- “I understand where you’re coming from, but I disagree.”
- “I don’t think that’s the best option, and here’s why…”
And one more thing – notice how these statements all start with “I?” That’s because they show personal responsibility. We’re taking ownership of these ideas or opinions we’re expressing.
3) They set boundaries
Another thing that assertive women have made a consistent habit is setting and communicating their boundaries.
It’s no secret that women have higher stress than men. In fact, according to a Priory Group report, we’re twice as likely to experience anxiety issues and 2.5 times more likely to develop depression. That number is staggering, to say the least.
Why is this so?
A lot of it boils down to the fact that women have more responsibilities. They have to deal with the constant push-and-pull of work-related stress and home and family responsibilities.
Add to that other kinds of social pressures like body image issues or friendship maintenance, and you’ll see why it can all get to be too much.
That’s why a huge part of learning to be assertive is knowing what you want and what you can’t accept. You need to have rules and limits so you don’t feel so overwhelmed and stepped on.
These boundaries are super important because they’re the first step toward advocating for yourself!
4) They stand up for themselves
One mistake that women often make is to try and make everyone around them happy. Of course, that’s a noble idea, but the problem is, we sometimes do it at the expense of our own well-being.
Look, being a positive force and taking care of people doesn’t mean you have to be a pushover.
You deserve to have your own needs championed, too, and there’s no one better to do that than yourself.
Assertive women understand this nugget of wisdom – no one is more invested in you than yourself.
So put that into action and advocate for yourself!
5) They take action
That’s another thing to think about – assertive women are doers. They don’t wait for opportunities to come to them; they create their own.
They. Make. Things. Happen.
The harsh reality is that women are often perceived as less competent, less ambitious, less committed than men, even when they have the same level of knowledge and expertise.
So, women have to be more proactive, especially if they’re in a male-dominated field. After all, when people constantly underrate you, you have to push more just to prove yourself.
Exhausting, isn’t it? But that’s the reality of the world we live in. If you aren’t assertive enough, you could take longer to get to where you want to be.
6) They embrace their strengths
When you’re constantly dealing with society’s perception that you’re less competent, one way to fight back is to highlight your strengths.
That’s what assertive women do, and it’s how they stand out!
So, focus on what you do well, and use that to your advantage. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to be someone else.
Remember, you’ve got your own mad skills and a unique perspective that’s always worth bringing to the table.
7) They know what they’re worth
This is connected to my previous point about knowing what you bring to the table. It’s worth discussing further the idea of knowing your self-worth.
You see, the strange thing is that it isn’t just men who have the “assumed incompetence” view of women. Studies show that women also fall into into the trap of seeing themselves as less competent, too!
I suppose it’s difficult to break out of that mindset when it’s what the world has been telling you for so long.
Fortunately, times are changing. We’re seeing more and more women growing in confidence and realizing that they’re equally competent as, if not more than, their male counterparts.
But again, assertiveness and self-belief are key here. It’s important to tune out what the world says and believe in yourself and your abilities. Doubt has no place in an assertive woman’s vocabulary.
8) They look people in the eye
This one might seem like such a small thing, but it’s a body language trick that speaks volumes about your self-confidence and determination.
All too often, women have weaker eye contact than men. This may be due to factors like cultural and social norms or differences in communication styles.
However, if you want to be assertive, you’d do well to practice making strong eye contact. This tells people you mean business and you’re not afraid of conflict. It tells them you can hold your own and you’re up for some real, honest communication.
Just be careful not to go overboard though. You want to look assertive and professional, not creepy or aggressive!
9) They seek feedback
As you can probably see by now, assertive women are all about growth and development. They don’t just want to be perceived as competent; they actually want to be the best at what they do.
So, they seek feedback because they know it’s important for continuous improvement. They want to learn how to overcome their weaknesses and add more to their list of strengths.
Aside from that, they are confident enough to take ownership of their mistakes. They know no one is perfect, and the way to go about it is to learn from those failures so they can do better next time.
10) They teach others how they want to be treated
Lastly, this is what I think is most definitive of an assertive woman. It’s all about upholding her rights and boundaries in a world that places so many demands on her.
If you’re a woman, the following scenarios might sound familiar to you:
- You constantly get interrupted in group settings
- You’ve experienced mansplaining
- Your thoughts, feelings, and ideas have been dismissed
- You’ve been stereotyped and underrated
- You’ve experience some form of harassment (verbal abuse, bullying, sexual harrassment, etc.)
I’ve experienced all of those myself, and wow, it can really ruin your day.
That’s why it’s crucial to be assertive – once you allow yourself to be treated this way, you’re perpetuating disrespectful behavior.
I know someone who allowed her boyfriend to yell at her early on in the relationship. This immediately created an imbalanced power dynamic, and from then on, she couldn’t reset or break the pattern.
As they always say, what you allow is what will continue.
So, no matter how uncomfortable it feels, speak up. Let them know your boundaries. It’s the only way to teach others how you want to be treated. They need to see you’re not one to be trifled with.
And instead of being aggressive, model respect. That way, they will learn to be respectful to you as well.
There’s no doubt it – women got the shorter end of the gender stick. Throughout history, we’ve struggled with discrimination and oppression.
But again, times are changing, and we no longer need to take it sitting down. If we want to achieve our goals, we’ve got to speak up, set our boundaries, and teach others how to treat us.
Hopefully, this list has shown you some ways to be more assertive. It might be difficult to overcome your shyness or other barriers that stand in your way, but believe me, once you learn how to advocate for yourself, there’s no limit to what you can achieve!