Some positive ways to be assertive at work

One has to be assertive many a time in work situations in the interest of the department and organization. Just imagine when you ask a subordinate to complete a report within a week, it is mid week already and s/he hasn’t started his/her work on it yet. You know the person is a slow coach and won’t be able to deliver on time, at least at this pace. What do you do? May be firmly repeat that you want the report on a specific date. Well, some of us often misinterpret assertiveness as aggression, and end up being rude.

Being assertive is a key managerial skill. It is absolutely necessary for getting your work ‘done’ on time. Good and skillful assertiveness largely depends on a person’s self-confidence, judgment, decision making skills and overall effectiveness. On a personal level, it strengthens relationships, removes stress, boosts self image and increases one’s level to succeed. So why isn’t everyone assertive? Well, it can be for various reasons like fear of reprisals, desire to please others and low self confidence. And if you are amongst those who want to become more assertive, here are a few trips:

Whenever you realize that you are not speaking your mind, pause and ask yourself ‘why?’ and then ask, ‘what is the worst thing that could happen to me if I voice my views in a decent manner? The answers to these questions will vary from person to person and from situation. Understand your mindset. Very often, you will realize that your apprehensions are downright silly and that they are rooted in your mind and not in the actual situation.

Take five minutes to identify your beliefs and intentions before you open your mouth. We often fail to stimulate our thinking process and opinion formation in a bid to please others. But ideally, your intentions should motivate your response.

Always stick to the point while discussing an important matter. For instance, do not say “I need that project tomorrow” rather say “I need XYZ project on my desk tomorrow at 11 am”. The clearer your message the better it will be. Similarly, always ask for more information when you are asked to do something you believe is unreasonable. The opposite person’s explanation will help you comprehend the matter entirely and give you confidence whether to say yes or no.

Most of us avoid saying no because we don’t want to seem harsh, rude or uncooperative. Explain your reasons of saying ‘no’, but avoid sounding apologetic. Offer some alternative solution of you can. But keep your reply crisp and prompt. However, make sure that your body language or tone isn’t too aggressive or casual.

If you feel that your opinions will lead to a confrontation, be prepared for the best and the worst case scenarios. Also think of how you will respond to them. This will build your confidence and ability to handle any reaction and increase your belief in your statement.

If you don’t agree with a particular proposal or idea, don’t smile, nod or adopt other body language that shows non-verbal agreement with the idea. Disagree if you have to, but in civil manner. And always express disagreement with a particular idea and not a person. Don’t pretend to agree.

Avoid making assumptions:

Don’t assume that you know what the opposite person is thinking about his/her motives or how s/he might react. This will make you unduly stressed and decrease your assertiveness. Speak to the other person to know his/her thoughts and follow up with suitable questions.