As a child I was often told by my father that I had to be more assertive. Only recently have I really begun to understand what this means. I came to realise that there is a difference between being assertive in a "nice guy" sense, and being assertive in a respectful sense. I have also learned that you aren't going to get anywhere being a nice guy. This doesn't mean you have to become a jerk, and I will explain to you what I mean as I get further into this post.
Assertiveness really is a skill that is going to help you save money, live happier, and of course help you get your own way. The way to be assertive is to consider yourself in the other person's shoes. They don't want Mr Bossy coming in, telling them what they want, and how they want it. If you do this, chances are you're not going to get your way.
To be assertive, you really need to practise the art of being respectful. By this I mean showing respect for others, but at the same time requesting (not demanding!) respect for yourself. The combination of both of these skills will really help you in the future, in all walks of life. Let me give you some examples.
Let's say you're in line at your favourite fast food restaurant, and you finally recieve your order, but to your dismay, one of the items you ordered is missing.
Now at this point, you have 3 choices.
Option 1: walk away and ignore it. It's alright, they gave you the wrong food, but that's ok, I will just eat my other food. In some cases, I would recommend this option. If it's extremely busy, and you haven't been robbed of anything significant (i.e. if you ordered 3 sauces, and you only got 2, and you've only lost a few cents). The amount of time you have to spend waiting to have your ordered correctly, just may not be worth it.
Option 2: abuse the staff, and demand the problem be fixed. Never do this. I've seen it happen before too many times, and it's just painful. For both parties invovled, and any casual observers, it really is just terrible to have to deal with.
Option 3: Go back to the staff, politely tell them they have made a mistake, ask for the problem to be rectified. This is being assertive. You are getting what you want, but you are doing it in a sensible, rspectful fashion. You haven't caused a scene, both parties are left with their self respect, and you have achieved what you wanted to. This is the sort of model you want to apply to your daily life, it will improve your self esteem, and make you happier.
Now, moving right along, I want to explain how being assertive is going to help you with saving money (afterall, this blog is based around saving money!). My father was one of these people who had no shame when he bought something, he could take himself to such a low level of embarassment, and come out the other end with his self respect, and having haggled to the point where he had saved an impressive amount. Fundamentally, this comes down to self confidence, and assertiveness. You don't have to quite take it to the level where your children are watching and trying to hide their faces, but you can use this to help you save money, and train yourself to be more assertive.
This can also be applied in your career development. Employers are always looking for employees who are dominant and impressive in their field of work, but respectful and thoughtful. You need to be willing to put yourself above others to succeed. I know this sounds controversial, but it's true. Those who want to succeed, will, even if it takes ruthless determination, and even if they have to step on a few toes. You need to put yourself in this category, but I urge you to do it in a way such that you don't ruin your reputation, and you maintain your morals and self respect.
This is how you become more assertive.