What shes exhibiting is a key personality attribute thats important in both business and life: assertiveness. Put simply, being assertive is a happy medium between the two extremes of aggressive and passive. Assertive people understand the value of making their desires and beliefs known, but their pride isnt damaged if their solution isnt the one that comes out on top.
Assertive people, on the other hand, tend to seek out and create win-win scenarios. Assertive people understand the value of making their desires and beliefs known, but their pride isn’t damaged if their solution isn’t the one that comes out on top. Confident and assured, these people approach situations with a healthy dose of objectivity, and as a result, are able to communicate clearly and work through challenges in a low-stress, no-drama, and self-honoring way.
Many people find it challenging to project assertiveness precisely because it requires you to walk a fine line between being pushy and pacifying. To help you navigate this tricky road, here are a few examples of how to be more assertive in some common workplace scenarios—without turning into the office jerk.
Passive Approach: You wait for your boss to make the first suggestion, then take the path of least resistance by agreeing, rather than putting your idea on the table or even suggesting ways to improve upon her strategy.
Aggressive Approach: You immediately present your “perfect” idea as the one the team needs to adopt and, without taking a breath, begin assigning tasks. If anyone tries to suggest an alternative, you shake your head and say, “That won’t work.” All the while, you’re pretending not to notice the eye-rolls happening around the table.
Assertive Approach: As you listen to the various suggestions your colleagues are floating, you both acknowledge their strong points and assume a role in solving potential challenges. You might say, for example, “It’s a great idea to track prospective client interactions. What if we did it over six months instead of three? That would allow us to collect more data and make better decisions for the next fiscal year.”
In this last scenario, you’ve stated your case in a way that acknowledges others’ perspectives and backed up your ideas with factual reasoning, rather than emotions. You’ve successfully contributed value to the conversation, but not at the cost of making other team members feel unvalued.
In the assertive approach, you’re showing resilience by responding in a proactive, future-oriented manner, signaling maturity, level-headedness, and a commitment to the company.
Assertive Approach: In a private meeting, you clearly communicate why his work isn’t acceptable, pointing to his failure to satisfy core procedural requirements, but are careful not to take aim at his personal qualities. Harnessing your emotional intelligence and empathy, you invite him to let you know if there is anything else going on. Perhaps he’s struggling with personal issues that are detracting his focus from work. Or, maybe he’s not clear on your instructions. To keep projects on track and better your relationship, you schedule a weekly meeting to check in and create a channel for clear communication.
Learning how to be more assertive—sticking up for yourself without being a total jerk—will not only earn you respect among co-workers, but it’ll also reduce your stress, making you feel more confident about yourself and your interactions with others. This high road that assertive people take is where the best outcomes happen—so by training yourself to look for the win-win opportunities in challenging situations, you’ll come out on top. Read more…