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Many times people go on the offence when they hear the work assertive, but really they are just confusing being assertive with being aggressive. There are three kinds of behaviours you can adopt in the workplace – passive, assertive and aggressive.
The best type is assertive. Passive behaviour focuses too much on the needs of others and what they want, while aggressive behaviour focuses on you and what you want. Assertive behaviour on the other hand is all about ‘WE’ or finding middle ground between what you want and what others around you want.
It has been found that lack of assertiveness in the workplace is a major contributor to poor performance. It is also a skill that will serve you well whenever you are involved in the process of negotiation.
Being assertive means being confident enough to say what you want and what you don’t want. It means you can tell people that you are upset with them or that you don’t appreciate their behaviour but in a manner that is not heated or emotion-ridden.
There are many benefits to being assertive at work:
- people tend to respect your opinion
- you don’t get taken advantage of
- you always feel that you have voiced what you have thought and felt
- it’s easier for people to work with you and easier for you to get work done
In this podcast we are going to talk about six ways that you can be more assertive at work:
- Give yourself permission to say ‘No’
- Don’t give into interruptions
- Stop self-limiting behaviours
- Learn to be firm
- Use ‘I’
- Adopt assertive body language
1.Give yourself permission to say ‘No’
Very often we find it impossible to say ‘No’, we think it will hurt another person’s feelings, or we feel obliged to say ‘Yes’. Say ‘No’ if you really want to and say ‘Yes’ if you really want. If you don’t respect your own desires and wants you will beat yourself up about that, and if you can’t respect yourself, well then how will someone else respect you.
2.Don’t give into interruptions
One place that you can really practice being assertive at work, is with interruptions. When you are working on a project or on the phone and someone interrupts, don’t hesitate to tell them you are busy and ask them to get back to you at another time. I know it may be easy to practice this with your team, but you also want to practice this approach with your boss and peers as well.
3. Stop self-limiting behaviours
This includes doing things like smiling too much, nodding your head, dropping your eyes to avoid the other person’s gaze etc. I am not saying be unpleasant but when you are saying No or taking a stance on an issue, make sure your body language says the same.
4.Learn to be firm
When you say ‘No’ learn to be decisive about it. You can go ahead and repeat the reason behind it but don’t apologise more than once. Keep saying No if the person is not backing down. When you repeat it often enough, a person tends to get the message.
5.Use ‘I’ language
When you say ‘we’ or ‘they’ it does not convey the assertiveness that the word ‘I’ does. So use statements like ‘I think’ or ‘I feel’ or ‘What I would do’. Don’t hide behind the pack, brand yourself as an individual and be clear about what you are thinking and feeling.
6.Adopt assertive body language
Remember that assertive body language is about standing straight and tall, so think about how you want to be seen and what your body language is communicating to others. You could even ask friends and family for feedback if you think you need to improve in this area.