A few weeks ago, I received a very peculiar request from an engineer that read – “I’m very shy and feel awkward to talk to people. I want to be aggressive. How can I do that?”
This got me thinking about how people confuse confidence with being aggressive. Do you feel this way too? If you do, then it’s time to change your thought process.
Don’t aim to be aggressive, rather aim to be assertive. An assertive person behaves confidently and is not frightened to say what he or she believes in. The first step in becoming assertive is by shedding your awkwardness and fear.
The only way you can overcome this fear is through practice and mental conditioning. All you need to do is take the first step and then you will learn along the way.
Let me share with you a small example from my own life to tell you how to be assertive:
I was very shy as a kid. I wanted to feel more confident. So, at the age of 10, I reached out to one of my teachers for help and he gave me a simple yet brilliant exercise to help me become assertive.
He told to me to stop a person who is riding a motorcycle on the road and ask for directions to the school. He said this would help me shed my fear of speaking up.
I was not comfortable doing it the first time, but then one day on my way to school, I gathered the courage and stopped a motorcyclist on the way to ask for directions to the school. He obviously seemed irritated as I had disturbed his journey but he still stopped and politely told me the directions to my school.
You won’t believe it but that day I got my confidence! I no longer felt shy or awkward to talk to a stranger.
Try this for yourself. I gave the same piece of advice to the engineer and it seemed to have worked well for him :).
Thus, there is a thin line between being aggressive and being assertive. Don’t think that by being aggressive you are being confident and daring. Be thoughtful and speak up for the things you truly believe in. Trust me, you will feel liberated and this valuable communication skill will take you a long way in your work and personal life.