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How to be more assertive as a man

The problem for men

Following the #metoo debacle, the shame many men already felt in the wake of the modern-day man-hating version of feminism was amplified. We started to worry that we are inherently harmful just for being male. The horrible actions of a few awful men started to make us all question ourselves, even if we’d always been decent and compassionate in the past.

This has led to a generational problem. Many millennial men and boys from the following generations have been raised either by fathers who were ashamed of their masculinity, or by single mothers without a solid father figure, and our mothers weren’t able to model what being a man should look like.

What we now have is a massive outbreak of Nice Guy Syndrome, to the degree that society has never seen before. A majority of men, it seems, are now passive, hesitant, and completely lacking in assertiveness. We’re a generation of men too scared to stand up for ourselves and ashamed of our desires, preferences, and boundaries. It’s now common for men to stay silent in the face of injustices, to take shit from toxic bosses, and even to be afraid of our own wives and children.

On top of this, a parallel explosion in materialism and status-seeking in society has led many of us to become attached to external outcomes like money, popularity, possessions and power. We’ve been trained to sacrifice our integrity for approval from others. which further reduces our desire to be assertive and honest and bold.

Why men need to be more assertive

Self-respect is earned. We’ve all learned the hard way that positive affirmations simply do not build confidence. We can’t lie to ourselves when our behaviour is measurably unimpressive. Assertiveness is a critical value to live by if you wish to look in the mirror and feel satisfied that the man looking back at you is worthy of respect. 

You might be liked as a passive or submissive man, but you cannot be loved. People pleasing has the disastrous side-effect of making us impossible to trust and believe. People intuitively understand that no one is genuinely easy-going about everything, so any man who appears to have no boundaries is clearly hiding things.

Humans have always been manipulative, but with the rise of materialism and wealth-obsession, deception is now considered mandatory. People are trying to “get” you all the time, and if you can’t assert yourself then you are easy prey. You will not only be frequently manipulated, but you will attract abusive narcissists more than others do. They can smell an easy target.

Your children are watching you. So is everyone else. People are dying for the lack of strong role-models. So what kind of role-model are you being? Are your children and the others looking to you for guidance learning to stand up for themselves, or are they learning to bend over and take it?

Birth rates are declining all over the world. Dating is getting harder. There are many factors behind these problems, but one is simply the absence of healthy sexual tension in romantic relationships. Assertiveness is attraction and polarising. People pleasing is a turn off.

As a wise man once said to me: “Stand up to her and she’ll believe you can stand up for her.” If you’re not assertive with your loved ones – your partner, friends and family – they’ll have no reason to believe that you can protect them. They’re the easy ones to confront, so if you can’t risk upsetting them, what hope do they have that you’ll protect them from predators?

I believe there are three types of people in this world: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. The sheepdog has all the ruthlessness, strength and bravery of the wolves, but without the psychopathy, selfishness, and parasitic desire to use others. The sheep out there need us to protect them from the wolves. If no one else is standing up, it means YOU need to.

What is assertiveness?

One reason Nice Guys struggle with assertiveness is because they confuse it with aggression. They genuinely don’t want to harm others, but see assertiveness as trying to hurt someone. This is an error.

Think of a fortress surrounding you. Submissiveness is allowing the enemy to come over the walls into your fort and harm you. Aggressiveness is going over the walls of their fort and harming them

Assertiveness is simply protecting your fortress. You don’t allow others in to do damage, but so long as they stay out, you’ll do them no harm. Assertiveness is only harmful to someone else to the same degree that they are trying to harm you (whether they consciously mean to or not doesn’t matter). As soon as they back down, you’ll let them be. There is no punishment or cruelty, just self-defence.

Assertiveness does not mean trying to convince, control or change another person. “Live and let live” will be your assertiveness motto. You don’t try to change their mind or their behaviour, you simply stop any bad behaviour from them being tolerated in your presence or in your life.

This will extend to the protection of your loved ones. You will aid your partner, children, friends and family in maintaining the security of their fortresses. The predators will have to go find someone else to harm, because it will become known that your loved ones are untouchable.

In very simple practical terms, assertiveness is verbally stating a boundary – your tolerance limit of another person’s harmful behaviours – and if that boundary is disrespected, there is immediate and powerful enforcement action to prevent further breaches (more on this below).

Barriers to assertiveness

Social media will have you scared that you’ll get cancelled. Previous experiences will have you scared that you’ll lose something, like your job or your relationship or the respect of your peers. You must be willing to lose these things to be effectively assertive. Any attachment to these outcomes only weakens your position. Ironically, the more willing you are to lose everything, the more likely you are to win a confrontation.

Awkwardness is often the biggest barrier. While you might think that you’re scared of getting fired or ostracised, you know deep down that this is catastrophising, and what you’re really afraid of is nothing more than uncomfortable emotional scenes. If you want to respect yourself as a man, you’re going to have to walk into the fire and create moments of discomfort. It won’t kill you.

You’ll have shame about yourself too, like your wants, needs and beliefs aren’t a good enough reason to speak up. Until you start asserting these, you’ll always feel insecure and ashamed. Your self-respect starts with being assertive. You can’t wait for the shame to go away. You must face it in real life.

Keep in mind that assertiveness is just about stating your truth and not backing down. You don’t need to convince others. You don’t even need to “win” the argument. You just need to speak up and protect yourself to the best of your ability.

Shame will create confusion and uncertainty about your beliefs. You must become clear on your deal-breakers – know what it is that you stand for and against. Journal about key topics and values, and decide before a confrontation what you will no longer tolerate.

If in doubt, follow my “51% rule”. If you don’t feel strongly about a topic, pick whichever side you’re most in favour of (even if it’s only by 1%) and fight as if you really mean it. This will help you reduce your sense of apathy and easygoingness which you hide behind to avoid conflict.

Setting a boundary

Boundaries are what they sound like: a line that cannot be crossed. Setting a boundary simply means showing this line to others; stating clearly what is and what is not tolerated.

Think of it as simply sharing your preferences, but then also making it clear what limits of behaviour are expected. Some preferences, like your taste in music, can just be stated but don’t need to be fought for. While others, like how you prefer to be spoken to by a boss, need to be clearly set out as respect boundaries.

Make sure there are no double-standards. Boundaries should mirror both ways. If you tell your child not to hit you, then don’t hit them either. If you want your boss to speak to you respectfully, make sure you speak to them in the same way. Boundaries get better responses when the other person realises it’s a two-way agreement rather than a telling-off.

You’re inviting the other person to enter into a verbal contract. They don’t have to do this, it’s just an offer. If they accept, then you will hold them to account to live by the contract and have a prosperous and respectful relationship with them. If they don’t accept the offer, then you will take enforcement action as if they’ve breached the contract.

There must be a guarantee of enforcement action. Breaching a boundary does not create further discussion. It must prompt corrective action. Talking time is over after the boundary is set and agreed upon.

Stay calm and rational, be prepared to simply outlast them. Confrontations can get heated and messy. There’s no way around this because you can’t control other people. Just be patient. They can’t stay mad forever. 

Never take the bait when setting a boundary. If they change the topic or starting throwing shade, just move the conversation back on track. Apply Hitchens razor: if they make claims without evidence, you can dismiss them without evidence. Stay on topic and “park” any new topics for later.

Enforcement action

Once a boundary is set and agreed upon, it must be enforced. This does not mean punishment, or even justice – we do not ever need to be aggressive and harmful. We must simply make it impossible for further boundary breaches to occur.

Setting the boundary is the first and only warning shot. The next time bad behaviour happens, you must respond with protective action. There are lots of ways to do this.

Reduce privileges. If your child screams at you while watching TV, calmly turn it off until they speak nicely to you again. If your friend fails to pay you back, stop lending them money until the debt is paid in full with interest. Being in your life gives people privileges that are reserved for those who respect you. Privileges can be reinstated when respectful behaviour returns.

Remove or reduce access. If your mother in-law gave your kid sugar after you said not to, then you’re not bringing the kids over tomorrow as originally planned. If your client yells at you on the phone, you are now unavailable for the next week. Make sure that time spent with you and your loved ones depends on quality of their behaviour. You don’t need to give them a life sentence; just remove access until they improve their behaviour or they’ve learned their lesson. It’s up to them how long it takes.

Step away or quit. In some cases, the disrespect is either so great or so repetitive that the person is simply not worth keeping in your life. If your boss is a bully and HR don’t do anything about it, then just quit and take your best clients with you. If your partner cheats on you again, then divorce them. If your friend steals your money, block their number and never talk to them again.

Make it known. Manipulation hides in darkness – abusive people rely on your shame and secrecy. If someone is consistently bullying or abusing you to an extreme degree and won’t respond to boundaries, then sing it to the rooftops. Tell everyone who knows you both. Call the police. Report it to local news media. Make it known: if you fuck with me, everyone will find out.

Escalate in tandem. The worse their behaviour, the stronger the enforcement action. Show them that every action gets an equal but opposite reaction. Repeat offences get double the previous sentence. If your mother in-law again gives the kids sugar, now she has to wait a whole month to spend unsupervised time with them.

Seek to protect rather than win. Don’t worry about looking good and getting the admiration of the audience. If walking away and letting the other person think they’ve won is what’s needed to protect yourself and your loved ones, then swallow your pride and do what’s right. Assertiveness is about protection, not dominance.

Don’t worry, they’ll get theirs eventually. I worked with criminal offenders for 7 years, and I can tell you that karma does indeed come back around in the long run. 

How you can make massive progress in just a few months!

You can do all this on your own.

Through trial and error, books, courses and online content, you can figure assertiveness out slowly piece by piece over time if you dedicate yourself to it and are willing to fail often and get uncomfortable in order to achieve social mastery and build strong self confidence.

Or…

You can work directly with me in your corner for a short period of time and achieve the same results in months that would take you YEARS on your own.

That’s what my confidence coaching is really all about. I accelerate your progress significantly by ensuring you:

  • Overcome your fear of rejection
  • Stop seeing yourself as not good enough
  • Develop easy practical social communication skills while still being honest
  • Unleash your masculinity to make you more assertive and attractive
  • Increase your self-confidence and self-respect
  • Get advanced practical tips to eliminate self-sabotage and give you the best possible chances at career advancement, dating opportunities, and deep connections with quality friends
  • Help you see your blind spots and errors and develop a measurement system that you can use on your own to ensure ongoing improvement for life

It took me about 7 years to figure this stuff out on my own. It takes my average coaching client only about 3-6 months to achieve a level of mastery that leaves them able to continue coaching themselves to further success while feeling absolutely certain that they’re on the right path (proven by the results they get).

I’ve turned virgins into fathers.

I’ve created assertive leaders out of meek people pleasers.

I’ve released overthinkers so they become powerfully decisive.

I’ve transformed shy introverts into social connectors.

I’ve moved highly anxious and depressed guys into a world of permanent self-confidence and optimism.

You don’t need to take my word for it. You can test it out for yourself. Fill out the application form below for a FREE trial coaching session with no obligation to continue, and no sales pitch!

My coaching will either blow you away and convince you that it’s worth it, or you’ll simply spend an hour talking to me without losing anything.

>> Click here to apply for a complimentary trial coaching session

Thanks for reading

Hope to speak to you soon

Dan Munro

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