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Take charge of your life
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Ever wish you could handle yourself better, really say what’s on your mind when your boss gets too demanding or when a friend takes advantage of your good nature? If so, it may be time to build your verbal self-defense skills.

By learning how to stand up for yourself, you can make positive changes in all aspects of your life, from being more successful at work to establishing stronger relationships with friends and family. These simple steps will get you started in the right direction.

    Be your own buddy. The concept of acting in your own best interests sounds simple, but it’s tough for women, who have been socialized to always do for others first. It’s okay to give, but don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. That’s not selfish, it’s self-preserving, according to mental health experts.

    Get in the game. The only way to become better at asserting yourself is by doing it. Take risks and reach beyond what you think you are capable of achieving. You may surprise yourself by getting that raise at work just by asking for it.

    Speak up. Learning when to voice your opinion is just as important as knowing when to keep quiet and listen. Sometimes a few words will work wonders to stop a colleague from trying to dump on you at the office. At other times, silence gets the point across that you’ve had enough and you’re not going to take it anymore.

    Exercise your rights. Let your phone company know you’re switching when you’re not pleased with its service. Write your congressperson when you feel strongly about a particular issue. Enlist the assistance of your local consumer advocate and other watchdog groups to help resolve complaints.

    Consider the consequences. When you’re in a bind, know what goal you’re trying to achieve and map out all the other possible outcomes, then decide how best to proceed. Once you accept the worst that can happen in any situation, you can then work toward negotiating the best possible deal for yourself.

    Hang in there. Persistence pays off, especially when you employ a consistent, methodical approach to problem solving. Be calm and courteous, but make it clear you need to have a resolution, whether you want credit for an incorrect bill or a callback from your healthcare provider.

    Learn to say no. This two-letter word packs lots of punch. Use it more often. You’ll feel better about yourself and less put upon by others who may be trying to trap you into taking on extra responsibilities.

    Trust your instincts. Stop second-guessing yourself. Rely on your innate ability to read a situation properly. Intuition is very real and can guide you in all areas of your life. Use it as a built-in warning signal or a green light.

    Buy the book. There are numerous workshops that teach ways to become more assertive. You can also check the library, a bookstore or a web site for resources that will teach you how to bolster your confidence and improve your communication skills.

    Nurture your nature. Give yourself credit for taking the opportunity to change. Remember to cut yourself a break when someone else gets the better of you. Move forward and look at the positive points that make you the unique woman you are.