Tuesday 28 February 2023

How to Communicate Assertively at Work

Getting your ideas across at work can often be an intimidating prospect. This is especially true if you work with people who are extremely confident, and always seem to get the last word in. If you aren’t a naturally confident person and often feel afraid to speak up in social situations, it can cause feelings of anxiety and sometimes even depression if your opinions go unheard for a long period of time.

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 way

Being 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.

Wednesday 15 February 2023

How Emotional Intelligence Can Benefit Managers

We've all been managed by incredibly smart people in their field who have risen through the ranks but who are not natural managers. And then there are the people who colleagues are drawn to for guidance even though they're not the manager. So what is it that sets these two groups of people apart?

Emotional intelligence 

When psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey published their theories in 1990 on how we process emotional information, the term 'emotional intelligence' was coined. Their findings provided fantastic insights into how processing emotional information could be used to promote social success, improve leadership skills, and even lead to happier relationships. The concept of emotional intelligence answered the question that some looking to progress in their careers had been asking for decades: why doesn't having a high IQ automatically translate into being a good leader? There are many situations in which leadership skills are needed, from teachers to tutors, to managers and even parents, but some are clearly better at leading than others.

The four areas of emotional intelligence

Mayer and Salovey presented four areas or ways in which one could exhibit emotional intelligence:
  1. Being aware of emotions at a non-verbal level
  2. Being able to use emotions to inform cognitive thinking.
  3. Deciphering the information relayed by emotions and also the resulting actions.
  4. Effectively regulating your own emotions, for your own sake and for the sake of others

How can emotional intelligence benefit managers?

Being self-aware can lead to a more trusting workforce As a manager, knowing your own strengths and weaknesses and how your emotions affect you and others can benefit both you and your employees. Do you find yourself taking things personally? Perhaps stop and reflect on how your emotions could influence your actions at work and how you react to others so that your employees can be confident in your decisions.

Practising empathy and open communication for a happier team  Being socially aware of situations can give you better insight into how your employees are feeling. Does your office work in cliques with some colleagues preferring to work with friends and leaving others out? If so, do you need to address this to improve relationships in the workplace? If an employee is isolating themselves when they usually wouldn’t, could this be a sign of underlying issues?

Foster a culture of communication by letting employees know they can communicate with you or with other clearly signposted groups or individuals. Unaddressed stress and anxiety in the workplace can lead to demotivated employees, high sickness rates, and ultimately poor results. Being emotionally aware can help to prevent this and make for a happier, more productive workforce.

Being aware of your own motivation can help to motivate others  As a manager you should not only reflect on the needs of your employees, but on your own emotional wellbeing too. Question what motivates you in your working life and how can this help to motivate others?

Do this by:
  • Reflecting on why you took this role in the first place and if it still makes you happy. If you’re finding it tricky to remember what attracted you to this job, try writing down any bugbears and see if there are any solutions that will result in you being happy in your role once again.
  • Involve employees in setting goals so they can be motivated too. You may already have your own goals, but by encouraging employees to be involved as a team, they will be more inclined to want to reach these shared ambitions.