By CYNTHIA ZHAI
Do you find it a challenge to assert yourself, either in a professional setting or in your personal life?
Asserting yourself means that you stand up for your own rights and defend your own boundaries while respecting others; and you express your opinions, needs, and feelings without hurting others. I love this interpretation about assertiveness: to disagree without being disagreeable.
To assert yourself indicates your level of self-esteem and self-assurance. Lack of assertiveness can affect your career prospects and quality of life. When you are assertive, you communicate more effectively and earn more respect.
Assertiveness is a very critical skill in communication. Within 0.36 s, you will find more than 14 mil Google results on how to be assertive – think before you speak, don’t apologise if it’s not warranted, remember it is okay to say “no” – to name a few.
Yet for years, none of them worked for me! I didn’t achieve any breakthrough on assertiveness until I did my own voice study.
In practicality, we do relate voices with personality traits, e.g. a deep voice comes across as credible, trustworthy, and authoritative; while a soft voice comes across as friendly, warm, or unsure.
Check out how you can develop your leadership voice with Zhai:
Develop an assertive voice
How does an assertive voice sound like? Confident, grounded, and self-assured. To sound that way, you need to know what makes an assertive voice.
When I first thought about developing my voice, part of me was doubtful while the other part of me thought:
“Why not make some changes and see the results?”
I discovered my optimum pitch, develop resonance and apply cadence in my voice. The more I developed them, the more amazed I was looking at its transformation. Not only did I tap the potential in my voice, I also tap into the realisation I had in my mind.
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By sounding more assertive, I realised that we do have our own desires, feelings, and opinions. Therefore, we should stand up for our own rights and defend our personal boundaries.
The changes prompted me to reflect on why it really worked, and I finally figured it out. You see, changes happen in two ways:
- Change the internal (your mind) and then the external (your behaviours/body) will follow; or
- Change the external (your behaviour/body), and the internal (your mind) will ultimately change.
In essence, changing either your mind or your behaviour/body will influence the other.
That is exactly how yoga works. We practise the external (our body, e.g. different postures) to discover and change the internal (our mind). As one of the foremost yoga teachers Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar (better known as B K S Ivengar) pointed out in his book Light on Life:
“It is through the alignment of my body that I discovered the alignment of my mind.”
This might interest you: Leadership’s A Stretch: 5 Lessons On And Off The Mat
Are you assertive enough? Are you still struggling to be more assertive? Are you disappointed at all your attempts to be more assertive?
Why not reverse the process by making external changes before anything else? Sometimes, the results might come even faster than making internal changes first.
All the best!
Email us at email@example.com to learn how to develop your leadership voice effectively. For more articles on Image Matters, click here.
Article reposted with permission on Leaderonomics.com.
Cynthia is a voice and speech coach, trainer and speaker, based in Singapore. She helps you discover your full voice that is authentic, confident and authoritative. She also helps organisations on voice and presentation skills training.