Always adopting the Gandhi stance on situations won’t help you live a normal life and won’t help those people change their behavior. The only way is to plant your feet on the ground and start standing up for yourself.
But this is easier said than done. Standing up for yourself can be quite a challenge if you’re used to letting others get their way at your expense. But once you’ve learned to make your first firm stand against someone, you’ll realize that being assertive is liberating and life-changing.
Why should you learn how to stand up for yourself?
The first question from someone who’s used to getting pushed over is, “why bother?” Why, indeed, if you’ve managed to survive this long with letting others walk over you? Here are some reasons:
#1 People will respect you. If you are one who is known to have a firm stand on something, people will recognize you as someone to respect. They will learn that you are not one who can be easily swayed by mere intimidation or peer pressure, and so they will likely consider your point of view.
#2 Standing for yourself develops character. Once you stand up against adversity, it gives you a different perspective about yourself and your personality. This also develops leadership qualities, public speaking, and improves decision making skills.
#3 You’ll get what you want and deserve. Asking a bully to stop, disagreeing to a pushy boss, and asserting what you want, is merely tipping the scales into your favor as it should have been in the first place.
How to stand up for yourself
So those are all great reasons to speak your mind, but exactly how do you stand up for yourself? It’s easier for some people than others. But with these tips, you’ll become assertive in no time.
#1 Learn to say no. Most people experience difficulty saying no because they are people pleasers and don’t want to risk getting the disapproval of others. Well, you can’t please everybody, and you don’t have to at your expense.
Learning to say no doesn’t only teach you how to stand up for yourself, but it also teaches you to adopt a higher moral standing against adversity. Saying no is important in two scenarios: (1) if you don’t like or approve of something, or (2) if it is wrong and you are forced to do it.
#2 Build up confidence. People can easily spot others who lack confidence, making them easy prey for coercion. If they see that you own your moves and decisions with confidence, they will learn to respect you.
People who have personal confidence won’t even need to say “no” or disagree with someone to make a stand, just their aura of confidence would be an enough deterrent for them.
#3 When arguing, appeal to intellect first, then to emotion next. People will sometimes try to talk you into something. Sometimes, you’ll try to argue back but they will suppress you with irrelevant arguments that you’ll just give in to in order to end the discussion. However, there is a way to turn the argument into your favor.
*Appealing to intellect – This is where you elaborate your point using logic. The goal is for them to understand your view as something positive and acceptable. Put in the facts and use appropriate language to match their understanding.
*Appealing to emotion – Once you’ve laid down the facts of your viewpoint, it is time to work through their mind and make them join your side. The trick is to use rhetoric that appeals to their empathy to make them embrace your idea as their own.
#4 Be mindful of your physical appearance. Face value will always be the litmus test for whether people will try to walk over you. Therefore, it is prudent that you dress in a way that commands dignity and respect. Mind your posture so that it exudes confidence, and avoid mannerisms that suggest awkwardness or indecisiveness.
#5 Reconsider the language you use. When proposing an idea or disagreeing with one, you should use language that suggests confidence and decisiveness. Instead of saying. “I think that they would probably disagree,” you should say the succinct “I disagree” phrase followed by your reasons why. Use ‘I” more often, and own your statement.
#6 Don’t apologize if unneeded. Apologizing just for saying an idea or saying anything at all is a big “pushover” sign over your head. One must never apologize for having an opinion, even if it is against the majority opinion – and especially if your opinion is sound. As mentioned, owning your ideas is a key aspect of standing up to people.
#7 Attack the idea, not the person. When arguments happen, it is easy for a discussion to devolve into name-calling if the people involved get emotional.
However, even if you disagree with an idea, you must maintain your dignity and uphold a superior intellectual position by arguing against the idea – not the person. An attack on the person *called an Ad Hominem* is a poor form of argument and does not solve anything at all.
#8 Learn to speak out. This is a huge part of learning how to stand up for yourself. If something is making you uncomfortable, distressed, or offended, you should directly address it with the person involved, even if that person is someone of authority or close to you.
You should not be afraid of disapproval or of hurting their feelings if you call out to their behavior.
#9 Always take the higher moral ground. Even if the person devolves into overt harassment, gossip, or verbal and physical threats, you should always maintain your composure and dignity against all these odds.
If their reaction is becoming a clear and present danger to your life or well-being, escalate the matter to a person of higher authority who can help you deal with them. Never stoop to their level and use the same tactics they’re using.