Now, don’t get scared on me because of the big word. Primarily, we’re talking about how you say things. Namely, how confidently you say things. Do you remember when you were a kid and you liked the pop songs that came out? And some of those songs had ‘sexy’ lyrics that sounded good on the radio but when you read them aloud, you always felt embarrassed. You know, words like ‘baby’ (the type over three years old) or lines like ‘I love you’. There was something about them that, for whatever reason, when you went to say them, your tone changed and you never sounded as convincing as the people singing on the radio. You felt awkward saying them, you weren’t assertive, and this made you less convincing.
So, it boils down to whether you’re convincing or not. I mean, if you’re doing a presentation and you have ‘baby’ syndrome − you feel awkward saying what you’re saying − then it kills the passion you’re speaking with. It kills your assertiveness. And people won’t believe you, not really. And man, that sucks when you’re trying to sell a vacuum cleaner.
The same problem comes up anytime when you’re presenting or performing. Take dancing. A lot of people get awkward when others ask them to dance. Even if they’re really good, they tend only to waddle side to side. They do this because they don’t want to embarrass themselves by pulling an all out Fred Astaire and really going for it. But, ironically, by not being assertive and not going for it, they make themselves look like a real idiot.
The key is to know what to do and when do it. Really do it, like your life depends on it. And when you go with that passion and let all the stops out, people will believe in what you’re doing. They’ll believe because you believe. And once you’ve convinced yourself, you become much more assertive and it becomes much easier to persuade others that you’re right, or good, or whatever.
Take Elvis as an example; Elvis is renowned for both dancing and, especially, singing. Take a look at anytime when he did either, even when he’s messing about with the boys in the rehearsals for That’s the Way it Is. He gives it his all. You believe he’s a good singer because he sings with all his heart. You believe he’s a good dancer because he dances with all his soul. And, man, you can’t look bad when you’re putting all your power behind what you’re doing.
Now, compare this with a high school kid (it could have been anyone) who might look great, sing great, dance great in rehearsal, but stick him in front of people and what happens? He flunks. Why? He didn’t believe in what he was doing. He felt wrong for some reason and had ‘baby’ syndrome. That made him awkward and unassertive and people didn’t appreciate his act.
In short: when you’re doing something right, with assertiveness, people think it’s good or right. If you still do something right but without assertiveness, people aren’t sure whether it’s good or right and it doesn’t work out as well.
Of course, know your stuff but make sure you present/perform it with assertiveness. What is assertiveness? Believing in what you’re doing and showing to others you believe in what you’re doing. Once you believe and give it your all (when you become assertive), it becomes much easier to come off well and persuade others that you’re right when even you didn’t believe you were. And, seriously, you want others to think you’re right!
P.S. I'd be glad to hear your feedback on my writing and the topics I cover, either through the comment box below or through my email at firstname.lastname@example.org It's OK, I won't bite.
P.P.S. If you'd like to see assertiveness in action, here's a Youtube clip of Elvis singing "I Was the One" from the Elvis: That's the Way it Is. Notice the conviction and assertiveness Elvis puts into the song even though he's forgetting the words (and notice how people love it all the same).