Are You Assertive or Aggressive?
Skilful assertiveness goes hand in hand with a person's confidence, good judgment, decision making, performance, health, and overall effectiveness.
From a business perspective, an assertive employee or leader can help:
- Reduce confusion and inefficiencies caused by misunderstandings and crossed wires
- Clearly communicate one's vision and goals
- Motivate others to rally around an idea or program
- Eliminate the meetings, tough decisions, and backpedaling that result from someone's original intention to keep the peace rather than be assertive
Assertiveness can help strengthen relationships, reduce stress, improve your self-image, and make you more successful. So why isn't everyone assertive? People cite fear of reprisals, reluctance to rock the boat, desire to please others, and low confidence as reasons why they are not assertive. While it takes honest self-awareness and hard work to realize why you are not assertive, you can learn how to be more assertive and apply it to your interactions.
Practical tips for being assertive
- Realize that it's all in your head
In situations where you feel you are not speaking your mind, ask yourself why and then ask, What's the worst thing that could happen if I share my thoughts in a civil, clear manner? The answers to these questions may very well be all you need to calm down and act assertively. Very often, people will see how silly their fears are and that the fears are rooted in their minds, not reality.
- Let your intentions motivate your response
Allow yourself to take a moment and identify your beliefs, opinions, and intentions for sharing a thought. The desire to please others often gets in the way of a person's thinking process and opinion formation.
- Be specific
Don't say, We need that ASAP. Instead say, I need the proposal finished and on my desk by 8a.m. Friday. What do you need to accomplish that? The more you can avoid assumptions or mixed messages, the better.
- Don't feign agreement
Don't substitute smiling, nodding, or adopting other body language that suggests agreement just for the sake of keeping the peace. Disagree actively, but do it in a civil manner! Express disagreement with the idea, not the person -- for example, I have another opinion, which I'd like to throw on the table.
- Ask for clarification
Request more information when asked to do something you believe is unreasonable. Perhaps the explanation will help you understand the request more fully and give you the confidence and assurance to say yes or no.