Edith E. Edger rightly said, “To be passive is to let others decide for you. To be aggressive is to decide for others. To be assertive is to decide for yourself.” An assertive body language is not only an important chapter in grooming classes but also a need for living life on one’s own accord. Assertiveness defines one’s personality, likes and dislikes, and helps in building a favourable community. Both in professional and in personal life, it is important that a person is assertive and hence in control of whatever happens in her life. Apart from the larger idea of an assertive human, how important is it to be an assertive woman? The answer to the question is obvious as it is important to be an assertive human, men or women. But still, the focus on assertive women cannot be compromised because anything less than that, is couched under the densely disparate gender stereotypes that see women as traditionally a submissive entity not capable of an assertion. If women are not assertive, they are assumed to be submissive to the opposite gender.

Key Takeaways:

  • Assertive body language is an important non-verbal component of verbal communication. It suggests the importance of an individual voice.
  • If women are not assertive, they are assumed to be submissive to the opposite gender. 
  • An assertive woman is a free woman who has her own views, capable of expressing it herself without being a protagonist who cannot narrate her own story.
  • A person with assertive body language automatically gathers attention and respect for whatever she says or believes.

What is assertive body language?

Assertive body language, in regular definition, is a non-verbal form of communication where the actions of the body communicate confidence, assertion, attentiveness and simplicity. It is an important non-verbal component of any verbal communication because it backs the words with the lofty interest and assertion shown in the body language of the speaker. A person with assertive body language automatically gathers attention and respect for whatever she says or believes. Assertive, as the word suggests, means to make oneself an important presence among one or many people. Therefore assertive body language suggests the importance of an individual’s voice, ideas and response in any communication. Not only the speaker but the others in the communication should also have an assertive body language.

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A woman who is assertive is aware of her rights, likes and dislikes. She is confident enough to voice out whatever she thinks is right for her and say “no” to the wrongs.

The main components of an assertive body language:

For an assertive body language, a person should speak firmly and be loud and clear. Voice is one of the parts of the body that play major role in framing one’s personality for the other. If the voice of the speaker is not clear, low or full of pauses, it gives a negative impression on the listener who might end up losing interest as the speaker is not confident or sure about what she says. Secondly, maintaining balanced eye contact with the listener or the speaker is required to have an assertive body language. Balanced eye contact is far away from staring which socially unacceptable as a form of communication. A person with a downcast eye suggests submissive and diffident behaviour. An erect, firm yet smooth body posture suggests confidence, truth and openness. An assertive body posture includes an erect back with feet planted flat on the floor and arms outstretched and lose, never folded which suggests insecurity. On the contrary, a hunched or bent body posture, shaking legs and folded arms give negative signals of insecurity, fear and nervousness.

Why do women need to have an assertive body language?

An assertive body language does not differ with gender- whether a man or a woman, folded legs are not an assertive body language. But there are some typical body languages that come gender stereotype assigned to it. The example of the folded legs, downcast eye and low pitched voice is usually connected with a woman as they are the socially accepted “womanly” behaviour. The semantic meaning of these signs is a submissive, insecure and weak body which is traditionally considered as a woman’s body. Firstly, in order to break this gender stereotype that uses gentle body language, also a trope of “innocent ladies” in romantic stories, to suggest the universal relation of women being dependent on assertive men.

Besides, since for ages women have been indoctrinated with these typical body languages and gender stereotypes, some women might find it difficult or sometimes absurd to assimilate what has been known as a “manly” behaviour. Therefore, more than men, women need to be trained especially to, first of all, get over gendered illusions and then become an assertive woman.

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Assertive body language, in Edger’s words, “is to decide for yourself”. It is a known fact that in the gender binaries that exist in the society since long has always expected women to compromise with their choices, voice and decisions. It has always been the man who should decide what the woman will wear, eat or desire. Women need to have a body language that suggests their individuality over anything else. They need to have a voice to speak and decide for themselves. This is the second reason why a woman should be trained to have an assertive body language so that she can assert her power as an individual.

For an assertive body language, a person should speak firmly and be loud and clear. Voice is one of the parts of the body that play major role in framing one’s personality for the other.

Assertive body language also gives them the confidence to agree and disagree with something. A woman who is assertive is aware of her rights, likes and dislikes. She is confident enough to voice out whatever she thinks is right for her and say “no” to the wrongs. An assertive woman is not bound to agree and follow her male partner at every point. She is a free woman who has her own views, capable of expressing it herself without being a protagonist who cannot narrate her own story.

Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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