Assertiveness and Building Self-Confidence to Drive Climate Action

It’s exactly two week since the #AfricaclimateWeek ended in the lively city of #Libreville, #Gabon. Bringing over 2300 participants physically, the presence of the youth during this august conference was what struck me. The youth were visible not in complaining, but in showcasing the #climateaction innovations, they are taking into their different spaces. They were not there crying for handouts but saying this is what we are doing, and we need support to close these gaps. I encouraged this assertiveness of value in the different forums where I was opportune to speak to youth, especially on how we must move beyond activism alone to action-oriented approaches where our results make noise.

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Let no one tell you that you are too poor to act. You have free knowledge everywhere, and all you need is to arm yourself with the proper knowledge and leverage your local cooperatives to mobilise the little resources and start small while thinking big. You have social media and must use this not to abuse others and create enemies but instead to rally like-minded people who can become part of your more significant course for good. Self-appoint yourself and swing into action as no one will do it for you. Hard truths are bitter but must be told. My background taught me this. No one will do anything for you unless you play your part and show value, as the amount of noise will not help but only make you a troubled asset.

Assertiveness and building self-confidence

Assertiveness consists of building a balance between self-confidence and trust in others, taking one’s place with respect and developing excellent listening skills. I remember when I stepped out that my assertiveness was often compared to aggressiveness simple because I could assume my ideas without fear and calmly. Also, I found myself several times wondering if I was not an aggressive person.

This introspection led me to research. I understood that assertiveness is to show a free expression of all emotions vis-a-vis one’s interlocutor and that it facilitates a non-submissive, non-manipulative posture in which we do not flee but claim serenely. I, therefore, felt freer because I was not an aggressive person but a person who defended his point of view with conviction without shaking up the certainties of his interlocutor.

In short, assertiveness is built and necessary for improving interpersonal relationships, communication and team management. It makes us suitable in our actions as we listen and proffer ideas. Do not argue forcefully or aggressively; read documents yourself, and have honest debates of ideas. Know how to say NO without worries and peacefully set limits.

Everything must be measured, both the question and the answers, and we must learn to act and ensure our wellbeing is vital and never make that error to please anyone.

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Assertiveness induces several behaviours.

- Be constructive, especially in complex situations and not be accusatory. Something that never resolves a crisis but rather worsens it.

- Seek solutions always. Be passionate. Be persistent. Be patient, and above all, be selfless and humble with respect for everyone.

- Learn from your failures and always put things into perspective and laugh about them because you have gained both confidence and maturity from the moment you manage to laugh at your mistakes and your defeat. This allows you to work better, be freer and leads with great openness.

My message to the youth was simple — assertiveness is essential for any person who wants to succeed, but it should be pinned on value, not noise. It encompasses flexibility and firmness, creating the serenity we all need to successfully drive transformational #climateaction solutions as we become the best version of who we are. Value attracts value, and to create value; you need to ensure short-term pain for long-term gain. After all, as this African proverb tells us, there are no shortcuts to the top of the palm tree.

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Richard Munang

Richard Munang

Environment and Development Policy Expert| 2016 Africa Environment Hero|2020 Africa Green Champion Winner| Author of #InnovativeVolunteerism| VIEWS are mine|