Are you having trouble effectively expressing your point of view? Do you feel you are often ignored? You may need to be more assertive. But, what does it mean to be assertive? Everyone wants to be more confident but not everyone knows how to be assertive.
Being assertive means being direct about what you need, want, feel or believe in a way that’s respectful of the views of others. It’s a communication skill that can reduce conflict, build your self-confidence and improve relationships in the workplace.
Being more assertive
In today's dynamic business environment to be able to get your perspectives and opinions across; you must be willing to be assertive. Assertiveness is a core communication skill and is one that many people struggle to apprehend.
Assertiveness is often paired with aggression however, this is not the case. Assertiveness is not about being aggressive towards others and putting your needs and wants above others. Rather it is about putting forward your own wants and needs, and being forthright about them, while also considering the rights, needs and wants of others.
To be assertive, you must be self-assured and draw strength from this assurance to effectively communicate your point firmly, yet fairly, across. It is intrinsic that you get your point across, but in a manner that does not disregard the needs and feelings of others.
The boss example
The boss hands you a pile of work in the afternoon before you go on vacation and demands that it is completed straight away; this is a form of aggressive behaviour. This is not effective communication, as the boss puts his needs ahead of yours and he does not consider your needs, wants and opinions.
An assertive response would be to state to the boss that the work will be done, but only after you have returned the next day. Here you assert your own rights while recognising that your boss simultaneously need to get the job done.
How can you be assertive in a manner that helps to communicate your message more effectively?
1. Value Yourself and Your Rights
A key aspect of being assertive is to have a positive understanding of yourself, your needs and your inherent value to yourself and the team. A lack of self-belief allows others to walk over you and you get to thinking, this is what you deserve. This negatively impacts your thinking and results in negative work, which then continues to fuel lack of self-worth and value.
To be more assertive in the workplace, work on improving and developing strong self-confidence. You understand that your rights, thoughts and feelings are just as important as everyone else’s; thus, they need to be put forward and respected as well. This will allow for greater and effective communication between team members.
2. Communicate your feelings, thoughts and needs
Like most everything else in life, strong communication is key to improving your assertiveness. Individuals who are more passive and less assertive are unable to communicate their needs, feelings and right within a given situation. One cannot consider your feelings and ideas if they have not been expressed. If individuals are aware of your rights, needs and wants, then they are more likely to consider them. Thus, effective communication is key. In order for you to express yourself assertively develop and learn key communication skills that allow your message to be effectively delivered and received.
3. Make peace with the fact that we can agree to disagree
Individuals don’t express themselves in fear of what they might say may hurt others, be ridiculed themselves or have a dominant personality within the environment controlling the types of responses made. This prevents others from speaking their mind and getting their feelings, desires and wants out. This requires a cultural and thinking shift in how work is conducted. There needs to be a safe and rewarding environment constructed, that will allow individuals to express themselves freely and encourage communication between partners. This will have a flow on effect and produce more positive working relationships within the work environment, as individuals are not holding onto anything and all issues are communicated freely between members.
4. Choose the right words
The language that we use reflects our feelings, moods and emotions. In order to be assertive, change the language that you use. Assertive language is constructed around the confident ‘I’ rather than such language as ‘I feel’ or ‘I think’. Assertive language is more direct, gets your message across more clearly and limits the chance for miscommunication between members as the language used is clear and concise, rather than using muddy and non-committal language such as ‘I think’. Individuals respond better to more clear and concise language used.
5. Practice and be patient
Learning to be more assertive in your communication takes time and practice. One does not become assertive overnight, but rather it is a gradual process where you learn the skills, cues and tools to understand how to be assertive, situations when to be assertive and what level of assertiveness is needed. These skills and knowledge will not come straight away, but rather they are accumulated over time, and you learn to adapt your language, behaviour, speech and presentation as well, to convey a greater sense of assertiveness in your communication style.
6. Learn to say ‘no’ and let go of the guilt
Saying no is one of the hardest things to do, especially when you’re not used to doing it; but it is a vital skill in developing to be a more assertive individual.
Saying no communicates to yourself and others your own limits and how much you are willing to take on or help with for you to be effective in your work environment. It helps to highlight areas where you think you are being taken advantage of.
It’s important to remember that you can’t possibly do everything or please everyone; being able to protect your time and your workload by saying ‘no’ is crucial. It can be a scary thing to do, but individuals will more than likely respect your wishes if they are effectively expressed to them.
+61 (0)2 9569 6906