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How to be assertive at work | A guide to confident communication

Team StoryWeavers|October 27, 2023, 15:24 IST|
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How to be assertive at work

Assertive. Not aggressive. Not rude. Not “coming on too strong”. Just being confident and voicing your opinion, standing up for your beliefs, in a respectful and peaceful manner. Assertive. That’s what you need to be, in life, and at work.

But is it important to be assertive?

Read through the next few lines and decide for yourself!

Earn respectThis is a no-brainer. Only if you share your views will people know what kind of a person you are (or want to be), and only then will they recognise your POV. 

Increased self-esteemWhen you’re assertive, you feel good about yourself. You become more confident, people WANT your opinion on everything; from important decisions at work to where you and your friends should go on your annual vacation.

Lower stress levelsEverything you didn’t say when you should have, is going to come back to haunt you, leading to anxiety. When in office, make your ideas known. Your stress levels will drop like never before.

YOUR needs are in focus: Assertive people can advocate for themselves, clearly expressing their concerns/wants. If you don’t tell people what you need, how will you get it?

Effective conflict resolutionIf you’re assertive, you will be able to resolve work struggles quickly and in a more controlled fashion. 

Encouragement of open dialogueIf you are either passive or aggressive, people might not want to engage you in a two-way conversation. Your assertive nature motivates others to express their ideas/feelings too, and makes more situations win-win.

More accountableThe more assertive you are, the bigger decisions you will have to make. Assertiveness is always accompanied by accountability.

Better leadershipAn assertive leader is revered by all. If you put forth your thoughts respectively, leaving room for discussion, and taking firm decisions that benefit everyone involved*, more and more people will be attracted to your leadership style.

*As a leader, there are times when you have to take tough calls too. You need to stand by your judgement and not agree with everyone just to keep them happy. But it’s important to acknowledge people’s emotions and the sentiment of the organisation and team when taking decisions.

Also Read: Elevate your conversational skills: A guide to effective communication in meetings

Now that you know why assertiveness is such a game-changer, let’s see how we can be more assertive in our daily lives, including in the workplace.

i. Be direct

Don’t beat around the bush. Speak uninhibited, without hurting anyone’s feelings or disrespecting their ideas.

ii. Learn to say no

This is easier said than done, because we believe that by saying no to a colleague (especially someone senior), we are being rude. It’s time to stop feeling guilty and understand that if you don’t like something, you need to stand up for yourself and say it as it is. Be firm, direct, and courteous.

iii. Say “I”

Use “I” statements instead of making others feel like they’re wrong or their opinion has less value.

iv. Maintain eye contact

When speaking, make sure to maintain eye contact, without aggressively engaging in a staring contest.

v. Practice open body language

Closed body language is an indication of a rigid personality, while an open posture suggests flexibility and friendliness. Maintain an upright posture during your discussions at work, exuding confidence. No leaning too far into others’ space, crossing arms and legs, fixing people with a death stare. 

vi. Be positive

When you speak, try to stay as far away from negativity as possible. No matter how tough the situation, express yourself confidently, politely, and in a positive manner.

vii. Control your emotions

Being assertive doesn’t magically give you what you want. There could be some back and forth. Engage in a logical conversation, without getting angry and aggressive. Breathe!

viii. Be responsible

You need to hold yourself accountable, not just when things go right; you must accept responsibility when you make a mistake. Don’t point fingers at anyone, but never take the blame for someone else’s shortcomings either. Advocate that people need to be accountable for their actions.

ix. Be proud of yourself AND your team

Take pride in accomplishments, yours and your team’s. Don’t give all the credit to your team or hog the praise by yourself. It’s important to highlight everyone’s achievements, including your own.

x. Take feedback in your stride

Assertive people are aware of their shortcomings and feedback plays a crucial role in that. When someone compliments you, accept it graciously, without underplaying the comment. Similarly, when you receive constructive feedback, don’t get defensive. Use the criticism to become a better person.

Also Read: Top 10 tips for holding effective meetings

If you are just starting out on your assertiveness journey, practice with someone you trust, family or a close friend. Start with low-risk situations and slowly go forward from there. You’re going to love being an assertive person!

Are you assertive with your friends and co-workers? Do let us know how you navigate tough situations in your daily life, at work and outside.

Like what you read? Head to Life at BYJU’S to learn more about our work, people, and the stories that make us unique. To explore job opportunities, check out Careers at BYJU’S.

(This story has been put together by Storyweaver, Neha Dua)

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