Do you find it difficult asserting yourself, either in a professional setting or in your personal life?

To assert yourself means that you stand up for your own rights while respecting others'; you defend your own boundaries while respecting others'; you express your own opinions, needs, and feelings without apology or 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 act more assertively, you communicate more effectively and command much respect.

Assertiveness is such a critical skill in communication. Within 0.15 seconds, you will find more than 1,320,000 "Google" results on how to be assertive, e.g. think before you speak, don't apologize if it's not warranted, remember it is ok to say "no"...... just to name a few.

Yet years none of them worked for me! I didn't achieve any breakthrough on assertiveness until I did my voice study.

You and I, 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.

What does an assertive voice sound like? Confident, grounded, and self-assured.

How to sound confident, grounded, and self-assured? You need to know what makes an assertive voice. It is your optimum pitch, the resonance in your voice and the correct cadence.

When I first thought about developing my voice, half of me was doubtful while the other half thought, "Why not make changes and see the result?"

I started to discover my optimum pitch, develop the resonance and apply cadence in my voice. The more I developed, the more amazed I was. Not only did I tap the potential in my voice, but the realization I had in my mind. By sounding more assertive, I realized, all individuals, we do and should have our own desires, feelings, and opinions; we do and should stand up for our own rights; and we do and should defend our own personal boundaries.

The changes prompted me to reflect on why it really worked and I finally figured it out.

Changes happen in two ways:

Change the internal (your mind) and then the external (your behaviors/body) will follow; or

Change the external (your behavior/body), the internal (your mind) will ultimately change.

In one word, changing one, either your mind or your behavior/body, ultimately influences the other.

That is exactly how Yoga works. We practice the external (our body, e.g. different postures) to discover and change the internal (our mind). Just as B.K.S. Iyengar, the living legend and leading teacher of Yoga, pointed out in his book Light on Life, "It is through the alignment of my body that I discovered the alignment of my mind." "We all know that mind affects body. Why not, suggests Yoga, try the other way round - access mind through body."

Are you assertive enough? Are you still struggling in finding strategies to be more assertive? Are you disappointed at all your attempts to be more assertive? Why not go the other way around? Make changes from the external. It will affect your internal, you mind, ultimately, sometimes the changes comes even faster than the other way around.

Author's Bio: 

Cynthia Zhai is a voice and speech coach and trainer, based in Singapore.

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