5 Ways to Be More Assertive
Like self-confidence, assertiveness can seem like an elusive character trait that only comes naturally to a select lucky few. In reality, assertiveness is a key skill that can be learned and developed with practice.
What is assertiveness?
When you are assertive you are direct, honest and straightforward. You put your point across clearly and coherently in a manner that ensures the person you are talking to feels respected.
This is very different from being aggressive, where you put your point of view forwards without considering the feelings or views of anyone else.
Why is assertiveness important?
Being assertive can have a positive impact on all areas of your life and particularly in the workplace.
- Clarity – being clear about what you need prevents misunderstanding and miscommunication.
- Productivity – with clarity comes less wasted time and more successful problem-solving.
- Less stress – assertive people tend to be more self-confident and less likely to panic or feel overwhelmed if things go wrong.
- You will also find that other people respect you and feel confident in your decision making; important for anyone in a position of leadership.
How to be more assertive
Tip 1: It’s Not You, It’s Me
This is a particularly useful tip to employ when having a potentially difficult conversation with a colleague or employee. Instead of using phrases such as ‘You always’ or ‘You never’, which will come across as aggressive and accusatory, try framing your statements using phrases like ‘I feel that..’ or ‘It seems to me that…’.
Tip 2: Stand in Their Shoes
Assertiveness relies on empathy or an understanding of how another person may think or feel about a situation. Before putting your own views across take a moment to consider how others may see things. Your point is more likely to be accepted if others involved feel validated and that their own views have been taken into account. To demonstrate this understanding use phrases such as “I can see/hear this is important to you” or “I appreciate you are unhappy/angry/frustrated.” If you’re in doubt as to what they think or feel, ask them to explain by saying “tell me more.”
Tip 3: Choose Active Verbs
To ensure your message and intentions are clear and to avoid any misunderstandings, choose words such as ‘will’ and ‘want’, rather than ‘could’ or ‘should’. For example, “I will be going on vacation next week, so I will need someone to cover my workload” is a clear and assertive statement.
Tip 4: Fact, Feeling, Future
Planning what you want to say beforehand can help you stay calm and considered. One way to approach preparing a ‘script’ is the Fact, Feeling, Future method:
- Fact: Describe exactly how you perceive a situation
- Feeling: Describe the impact that the situation has had on you. How has it made you feel?
- Future: State what you would like to change in the future and the benefits you think those changes will have for everyone involved
Tip 5: Repeat
Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself to make it clear that you mean what you say. Part of being assertive is having an awareness of your value and the validity of your point of view. Giving way as soon as someone challenges you undermines this self-assuredness. So stick to your guns whilst being firm, fair and polite. This is sometimes called the ‘broken record technique.’
Do you want to be more assertive? Book a free 20-minute consultation with me to find out how Positive Psychology coaching could help.