One trait that will help you at work is assertiveness. It’s crucial that you learn and develop it to advance in your career or be generally happy about your job. When you are assertive, you are able to win the respect of your colleagues and your viewpoint is also heard and valued.
It’s a hard communication trait to acquire and develop, especially if you are not naturally assertive or you grew up in a household with a passive means of communication.
If you are naturally passive, you are not a lost cause. Like any other trait or skill, it is possible to become assertive and to stand up for yourself in situations when you need to. You could do it in a healthy and respectful manner that your assertiveness won’t make people hold a grudge against you.
What exactly is assertiveness?
According to SkillsYouNeed.com, being assertive means “being able to stand up for your own or other people’s rights in a calm and positive way, without being either aggressive or passively accepting ‘wrong’. It can be a learned communication skill that
will help you earn the respect of others and have better trusting relationships at work.
Not only does it matter in the workplace, but being assertive will also help you with your life in general.
Now, we recognize that people have different personalities. There are those who are born and raised assertive, who carry themselves confidently, and are able to stand up for themselves when certain situations call for it. There are others who are passive and would just let a situation be. The latter needs to learn how to be more assertive in order to strike a balance between getting his or her wants and needs fulfilled as well as fulfilling the rights and needs of other people.
When you are assertive, people will respect you. They have a higher regard for you because they know you can’t be manipulated or deceived in any scenario. They know you can handle yourself well. This increases your self-esteem and reduces anxiety and stress that may be brought about by pent-up emotions.
BetterUp cites a study about assertiveness that discovered reduced anxiety among students after they were given an assertiveness training.
When exercising assertiveness, there is mutual respect between you and the involved colleague. Because of the mutual respect between you two, you are able to say your message clearly and directly. You also have a sense of self-respect that you don’t let others bring you down. In your way of standing up for yourself in a conflict, you resolve it without being disrespectful or hurtful. If the other person is willing to discuss with you in order to resolve a conflict, you will be able to find win-win solutions. Being assertive can also help you become a leader that your team members look up to and respect. Why? Because they know that you are a fair leader and that you go by the rulebook when coming up with your decisions.
Some examples of being assertive in the workplace are when you are able to express your perspective in a direct manner, again, while maintaining respect for others. You are also able to make eye contact when addressing a certain situation and are able to say sorry and learn from a personal mistake. When making a decision that will affect others, you ask for everyone’s opinion and weigh it with yours. You also are able to take pride in what the team has accomplished including your contributions to that accomplishment. You could give credit to everyone, including yourself.
So how do you become assertive at work?
Learn how to use statements with an “I”
Remember that when you are assertive, you do not look outward and judge others to be wrong because they do not agree with your opinion. When you are assertive, it’s more about asking for respect with regards to your needs and also your perspective on things heard and valued.
To avoid throwing shade at anyone, be clear and use an “I” statement when getting your point across. For instance, instead of saying, “you should stop using your vape during meetings,” say “I feel that my presence in the room is not considered when I share the airspace with you.”
Establish eye contact
Look at the person directly and hold your gaze even though you feel you are getting smaller. Maybe you can practice eye contact with a person that you are comfortable with.
Use confident body language
Your body language says a lot about your self-esteem. Stand upright (tip: using standing desk converters at work can help improve your posture) and keep your head held high when conversing or confronting someone.
Do not cross your arms and legs because it might look like you are tense. Lean forward without taking the space of the other person.
Practice saying “no”
Say “no” to things you do not want and do not be sorry about it. Do not give an alternative and say the word “no” itself. You don’t want to be working overtime every night especially when your time is not going to be paid for by your company. Say, “I won’t do unpaid overtime because I feel that it is not fair to me and the others.”
Rehearse conversations in your head
If you’re not a naturally assertive person, you might find yourself nervous when you’re about to confront someone. Practice the conversation in front of a mirror if you have to. You could record yourself on your phone and get a feel of what the conversation will sound like in real life. Be sure to use clear and direct language.
Be open to feedback, whether positive or negative
When receiving compliments, say thank you and don’t put yourself down just to not come off arrogant. Take the compliment.
When hearing negative feedback or constructive criticism, do not be defensive about it. Hear it out and be open as to where it is coming from. This will only help you improve your performance at work.
Know how you could ask and receive feedback about your work.
Use positive language
When you say what you feel and think, be as positive as possible with your use of language. Do not resort to hate. You should remember that to earn others’ respect, you must also be respectful yourself. This matters more when you’re in the middle of a tight spot or a difficult situation.