6 Ways to Be More Assertive at Work
There is a full spectrum of behaviours at work between passive and aggressive. If you fall towards either end of this scale, your productivity, stress levels and progress could benefit if you learn how to be more assertive at work.
No one enjoys working with an aggressive colleague. Whereas they may get the results they need from other people in the short term, an aggressive individual comes across as bullying and selfish. In the long term, aggressive behaviour at work will undermine an individual’s position, create friction in the workplace and lead to confrontation and a decline in overall productivity. Whereas aggressive workers may get what they need from their colleagues, they are rarely respected, often stressed and fail to make effective leaders or managers.
On the other side of the coin, being too passive at work can have equally negative consequences. Being too passive can lead to a lack of respect, both self-respect and that awarded by others. Overly passive behaviour can lead to an individual coming across as not as competent as their colleagues and may mean that they end up taking on more work than they are able to do. This leads to a poor quality of work overall, as well as resentment and the feeling of being undervalued. No one performs to their best ability when they don’t feel appreciated by others.
Learning to be more assertive at work is about finding a balance between passivity and aggression. Being assertive means being confident in your value and able to express your needs as well as your boundaries and limits.
Learning to be more assertive at work means that you’ll be able to negotiate better and feel less stressed. People who are seen as assertive are perceived as better leaders and more able problem solvers. Dealing with people in a more assertive manner means that you’ll be able to ensure your own needs are met without compromising the needs of others.
So, if you think your behaviour at work may be either too passive or too aggressive – follow our tips to balance the two extremes and become more assertive.
Be More Assertive at Work
1. Know Your Own Value and Limitations
Think about your position at work. Recognise what you bring to the table in the way of skills. Reminding yourself of your worth is a great way to boost your confidence and build your capabilities when it comes to protecting your rights.
Also, be aware of your limitations. Know what you’re not able to do and don’t be afraid to acknowledge these limitations to others.
2. Recognise the Value of Others
Whilst aggressive workers tend to steam-roller over the needs of others in order to get what they want, assertive workers are different. Knowing and acknowledging the contributions of others is a key skill when it comes to asserting your own needs.
3. Express Yourself
Don’t sit and fume about situations. If you have something to say or something to ask for, prepare what you need to say and express yourself politely but firmly. Don’t be afraid to stand up to others during confrontations but always remember to control your emotions and remain respectful.
4. Accept Both Criticism and Compliments
Accept negative and positive comments without being reactionary. Take note of such comments and work on any areas where you feel criticism may be justified. If you don’t agree with criticism, do say so, but refrain from appearing angry or defensive.
5. Say No
Know your limits and capabilities. If you can’t do what you’re asked to do, either because you don’t have the time or necessary skills – say so. Saying no can be turned into a positive as you may be able to suggest any training or support you need – a solution that will work for everyone in the long term. Saying no means you are establishing your boundaries. Offering a solution means that you’re proposing a positive change that will benefit all those involved.
6. Control Your Emotions
Emotional outbursts at work are rarely productive. If you have trouble controlling your emotions, take some time to work on this area. Prepare what you need to say ahead of potentially difficult conversations. If you feel like you’re going to ‘lose it’, take some time out, go for a walk or take a break. Losing control of your emotions makes you feel weak. Maintaining your emotional control is not only beneficial in reducing immediate stress, it will make you both appear and FEEL more assertive.
Learning to be more assertive at work can take time but is worth the effort. By incorporating these tips into your working life, you’ll begin to feel more self-value. You’ll appear more confident to others and be seen as more able. There’s a lot to be said for the the saying, ‘fake it until you make it’. If you really do struggle to be more assertive – simply pretend that you are a naturally assertive person and act accordingly. Over time, your own natural inclinations will change, bringing benefits to both your life and the organisation you work for.
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