It is a commonly held thought that only strong assertive people get on in the workplace and that you won’t be successful if you are shy. This is not necessarily true and the good news is that assertiveness can be learned.
There is also a case that overly assertive almost aggressive people will upset too many people along the way to be entirely successful if they hope to manage people effectively.
Like many things in life it is about achieving a balance between aggressive and permissive behaviour. In this article we look at a few ideas for developing your assertiveness without going too far.
Understand The Context
Being assertive at the appropriate moment is part of the skill. Much will depend upon the culture of the team or organisation and even the country you are working in. If high forcefulness is valued in the organisation then it will useful to display these behaviours.
Depending upon the organisation some women may feel that they have to be a bit more assertive in order to get on. This can be quite a dilemma as over doing this can lead them being viewed negatively.
Set Yourself Goals For Each Situation
If you are serious about developing your assertiveness skills, then it pays to set goals for what you want to achieve in a particular situation. For example if you want your point of view to be heard in a managers meeting then you might want to set yourself an initial target of putting your point across at least once in the next meeting. Taking time to plan ahead for the meeting will not only help your confidence to make a real contribution it is likely to make you one of the most prepared for the meeting! This can only be a good thing as you stand head and shoulders above anyone else who has not done so sufficiently.
Assess Your Current Levels Of Assertiveness
One of the most useful techniques in getting this right is by consciously assessing yourself. After the situation carry out a self-assessment by reflecting upon your performance. Did you achieve what you set out to do? How successful were and if you were not, what prevented you be being so? Ask other people who you trust to give you feedback. Taking the managers’ meeting as an example, consider asking another manager to give you their perception of how you appeared during the meeting. It will be interesting to see how assertive they think you are or should be in that situation.
In many situations you may not even need to be especially assertive, you just need to know how to build good relations with colleagues and understand what is important to them. By helping them to achieve these things you are quite likely to influence them and help to get what you want. In fact you will be looking at a ‘win-win’ scenario.
Be Aware Of The Line
Finally, always be constantly aware whether you have crossed the line of acceptable assertiveness. Watch for people’s reactions especially their body language. If you find that people are suddenly negative towards you then consider whether this was expected or not and whether you need to tone it down.
Being assertive can be a great skill in making sure that people take you seriously. Set yourself goals and stick to them. Assess your performance and ask others too. Like many things, keep practicing until you get it right.
Head of Training
(Image courtesy of Michal Marcol at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Mark Williams is a learning and development professional, using business psychology and multiple intelligences to create fascinating and quickly-identifiable learning initiatives in the real-world business setting. Mark’s role at MTD is to ensure that our training is leading edge, and works closely with our trainers to develop the best learning experiences for all people on learning programmes. Mark designs and delivers training programmes for businesses both small and large and strives to ensure that MTD’s clients are receiving the very best training, support and services that will really make a difference to their business.