Being assertive is a key managerial skill

Just imagine this situation. You tell your subordinate to complete a report within a week, its mid week already and s/he hasn’t started his/her work on it as yet. You know that the person is slowcoach and won’t be able to deliver on time, at least at this pace. What do you do? Firmly reiterate that you want the report on a specific date or launch a verbal attack on the person and his/her character. But beware some of us often misinterpret assertiveness as aggression and end up being rude or overbearing.

Being assertive is a key managerial skill. It is absolutely for getting your work done in time and effectively. Good and skillful assertiveness largely depends on a person’s self confidence, judgmental, decision making skills and overall effectiveness. On a personal level, it strengthens relationships, removes stress, boosts self image and increases one’s levels 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 ideas:

Understand your mindset:

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 police manner? The answers to these questions will vary from person to person and situation to situation. 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.

Know your intentions:

Take five minutes to identify your beliefs, opinions and intentions before you mouth. Ideally, your intentions should motivate your response. Very often, we fail to stimulate our thinking process and opinion formation in a bid to please others.

Always talk to the point while discussing on important matter. For example, don’t say that I need that project tomorrow rather say I need XYZ project on my desk tomorrow at 11am. The clearer your message the better it will be. Similarly always ask for more info when you are asked to do something you believe in unreasonable. The other person’s explanation will help you comprehend the matter more fully, and give you the confidence to say yes or no.

Don’t pretend to agree:

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 a civil manner. And always express disagreement with a particular idea and not a person.

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

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

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