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Blog : Assertiveness: the art of striking a happy medium


Assertiveness: the art of striking a happy medium

Sally Brand discusses assertiveness.

Assertiveness is a skill that many of us would like to be more adept at.

Assertive behaviour enables us to be more efficient, builds self-confidence and helps us to manage our lives and stress. However, being assertive is not always that easy and we can all find it hard to communicate openly at times. For instance, in all honesty, how many times have you said “yes” to something when you really should have said “no”?!

Lack of assertiveness can lead to passive or aggressive behaviour. Both of which can create a bad atmosphere and be counter-productive (this is not great for strong employee engagement levels!) There is a myth that to be assertive you need to be aggressive. In reality, this is not the case and your behaviour should not undermine others. The trick is to get the right balance. It’s important to believe in yourself and clearly put your views forward to get your message across, but at the same time you need to be respectful of others. Otherwise your ‘assertive’ behaviour could really just be a form of bullying.

Taking all this into consideration, here are some top tips to help you put this into practice (and hopefully make life that little bit easier!):

  1. Keep communication clear and direct. Communicate your thoughts without being overtly emotional and speak at a similar volume to the other individual(s), don’t shout!
  2. Keep your body language open and secure. For example, passive body language can lead to you being perceived as a victim and aggressive body language can make it really difficult to build rapport. Assertive people have upright and confident posture and a calm manner about them.
  3. Own your message by using “I”; it’s more effective than saying “you’re wrong”.
  4. Remember that people have different motivations and may see things differently to you. To learn more about this attend our next 'Manage and motivate' public session.
  5. Don’t let situations fester; get things out in the open straight away.
  6. Respect other peoples' point of view; after all you’d expect them to do the same.
  7. Be willing to offer alternative solutions and negotiate.
  8. Accept that people make mistakes (and that includes you!) so don’t hold a grudge.
  9. Use empathy; this can be a very powerful rapport building tool.
  10. Practice makes perfect. Look at someone who you see as assertive and think about what makes them assertive and how you can implement these traits.

It’s important to remember that although assertiveness may not be something that comes easily to many of us, people who are able to assert themselves appropriately are often well respected in the workplace. Furthermore, they are more likely to be fulfilled as they are not afraid to ask for what they want and go after it. Being assertive can also help individuals to reduce stress levels as it can help you to manage your time and prevent frustration.

Assertiveness should really be a state of mind. As best-selling author Shakti Gawain states, “Assertiveness is not what you do, it’s who you are”.

If you would like some further top tips and development around assertiveness why not contact us at sally@learnpurple.com

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