What are the benefits of communicating assertively at work?According to the Mayo Clinic, “Assertiveness can help you control stress and anger and improve coping skills...Being assertive can also help boost your self-esteem and earn other’s respect.”
If you have difficulty getting your point across and want to know how to communicate effectively and assertively at work, we have some helpful tips.
Communicating in an assertive wayBeing assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive. It simply means letting others know how you feel or what you want or need, in a clear, confident manner. So how do you do this?
Avoid being passive. When it comes to decision making, state your preference. For example, if you’re asked your thoughts on what to do in a particular situation, instead of agreeing to go along with what another person thinks to avoid conflict, share your view.
Be accountable. When you make a mistake, admit it. Being confident enough to know when something has gone wrong and to want to rectify a situation can earn you the respect of your colleagues. A more passive person may put the blame on others rather than taking responsibility for their own actions.
Ask questions. If you’re unsure about any instructions you’ve been given, ask for clarification. This can be a task given to you by your manager or work you have been assigned by another colleague or department.
Learn your preferred method of communication. Some people absorb instructions better when they hear them, and others prefer to have them written down. If you are being given instructions verbally, take notes if this makes it easier for you to understand what needs to happen. Likewise, if you’ve received an email and it doesn’t make sense to you, ask the sender to talk through what they mean.
Don’t mistake being aggressive with being assertive. Putting your views out there doesn’t mean you have to shout to be heard. Being assertive can also be sitting back and listening to other people’s views before offering your opinion. When speaking, allow others to finish their part of the discussion before responding rather than speaking over them to get your point across.
Know when to speak and know when to stay quiet. It may not always be appropriate to give ideas or views in a group setting. It may be that a meeting has a time limit, or that the idea you have isn’t immediately relevant to the meeting or the attendees. Either organise a separate meeting to discuss your thoughts or put them in an email to the relevant colleagues.
Don’t fight fire with fire - If a colleague or manager disrespects you in front of others, rather than retaliating there and then, find a more appropriate time to let them know that you didn’t appreciate their lack of professionalism. Meeting aggression with more aggression can make a situation spiral out of control. Being the calm one in the situation can gain respect from others, including the aggressor.