Tuning into assertiveness

THERE’S BEEN a rush on for assertiveness training recently from all sorts of organisations. I’m taking this as a positive sign that people are sick of a recession-induced mentality of keeping their heads below the parapet until it all blows over and getting back to their audacious roots.

From my experience, even what seem to be the most ‘no nonsense’ of people struggle with assertiveness in some areas of their working lives whether it’s asking for pay rises or delegating to colleagues.

From my observations, being confident and direct in claiming our rights and stating our views, opinions and needs in any given situation (i.e., being assertive) is a more effective way of building productive working relationships than it is to say nothing and let other people take control (passive – where you’re trusting to luck to get what you want) or bulldozing people into doing it your way (aggressive – where you may establish short term gains but quickly alienate people).

If you’d like to become more assertive, the following should help:

Know yourself: most of us are assertive in some areas of our lives. Think about the areas where you are most assertive to understand what motivates you to act in this manner. Now, think about the areas in which you would like to improve your assertiveness. How do you act currently and why? What do you need to change about your thought processes and subsequent actions to move forward?

Take responsibility: the greatest step towards assertiveness is to claim responsibility for your own life. Often people behave as if life is something that ‘happens to them’. While there are many things out of our control, assertive people tend to control what they can by working out their options and taking appropriate action. They realise that even when they can’t control everything, they can control how they react.

Plan/decide what you want: part of being responsible is clarifying what you want to change and what you want to achieve and not letting others decide this for you (and then blaming them when you don’t like the outcome!).

Be willing to negotiate: being assertive doesn’t mean getting what you want immediately or all of the time. Most relationships (whether work or social) rely on compromise and solutions that both parties are happy with. Assertive people don’t get put off when the initial answer is no but rather continue to explore different ways in which to reach common goals.

However, if an agreement can’t be made, they don’t take offence. Assertiveness is about both self-respect and respecting others not about winning at any cost or always having to be right, accepting that others don’t have to agree with you or even like what you are doing and knowing the time to agree to disagree.

Ask questions and explore options: don’t assume that you know what the result will be beforehand. Many people are put off taking action because they imagine the worst!

So, don’t think yourself into a standstill. Ask questions. Find out the facts and explore options as you go along. The more you understand what lies behind someone’s stance or demands, the easier it is to find a solution that works well for all involved.

Learn to say no: most of us have times when we really want to say no but feel obliged to say yes. When this happens, a useful question to ask yourself to weigh up the balance is: “If I say yes, what else will I have to say no to?” Realising what you have to give up will make it easier to say no when necessary.

Trail and error: change isn’t usually a quick fix. If you want to become more assertive, you’ll need to practise and learn from what happens. Remember that just because you have decided to change your behaviour doesn’t mean that others will follow suit. However, you will be more satisfied knowing that you are acting in a way that is more productive for you and in general, assertive people tend to get better results.

More info: find out more about our assertiveness training and other courses on our listings page or contact us direct for a chat about your specific needs.

This entry was posted in Business Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.