It’s all in the understanding….
Do you know anyone who practices assertiveness at work, and gets it right? Ask ten people what assertiveness is and you’ll get ten different answers. Naturally passive people can see it as a hurdle to climb, yet at the same time feel small for not standing up for their rights. Others see it as a legitimate way to voice their opinions over others, rather than create a fair working practise between parties.
Some cultures see western assertiveness as rude, so intentions have to be sincere on both sides. The trouble is nobody is really taught at school how to be assertive in the right way – and assertiveness is a learnt behaviour.
So what is it?
It is about balance. It is having the confidence, patience and desire to lay out your needs and wants transparently and authentically, whilst considering the needs and wants of all concerned.
“Assertiveness expresses our needs and wants in a non-threatening way, all the while being respectful of the other’s needs and wants and is done so in the light of empathy, but not overly emotional.”
NEVER go into a conversation when you are feeling upset or angry. Never assume a militant stance. Calmness and consideration are both key, as is deep, receptive listening.
One of the benefits of being assertive is that it gives you a better understanding of yourself and the value you can offer an organisation.
Not only are you better able to negotiate “win-win” solutions, you can gain common ground with the other party much more quickly and effectively.
Typically, people who are problem solvers and ‘doers’ are seen as great managers and are generally well-liked.
Most of all, you’ll become less anxious about voicing what needs to be said and won’t feel victimised when things don’t quite go as planned. You are ultimately more likely find a better working solution, whilst keeping clear and appropriate boundaries in place.
Employing Assertiveness Techniques
Use “I” statements and powerful words such as “I strongly feel”. Make sure you understand how the other person is viewing the situation. You can only operate successfully from building strong rapport and actively engaging with their point of view. An empathic response will allow them to see that you consider them too.
Always talk about the desired outcome that will serve both parties. If you have to become firmer, do so by asking them if they, too, have this outcome in mind.
If you start to feel emotional, ask for time to compose your thoughts. When you’re ready to begin again, use emphatic words such as “will” instead of “could or should” “ I want”, instead of “I would like” and so on. It’s about making your position clear.
There are many more techniques which will not only bring successful outcomes but earn you both respect and appreciation. These are the basic keys to be more naturally assertive at work.