TSI Blog

Assertiveness In The Workplace

March 10th, 2016 by Alison McKinney

AssertiveWhat is assertiveness?

Assertiveness is a very important communication skill and is based on a philosophy of personal responsibility and an awareness of the rights of other people around you.

Being assertive means being honest and true to yourself and others. It gives you the ability to say directly what it is you would like, what you need and how you are feeling. However, this is not to be at the expense of other people.

Many people think that being assertive means being rude, loud and aggressive. This is not true. Being assertive is about ‘making sure your voice is heard’, not about ‘getting your own way’. It’s also not a means to obtain a quick fix or to manipulate other people.

Put simply, being assertive is that happy medium between being too aggressive and too passive.

So why is assertiveness in the workplace so important?

Well in a way it links back to a previous blog about Saying ‘NO’ in the workplace. It’s a positive and freeing skill to have.

A lack of assertiveness may very well lead to poor performance, productivity and employee engagement levels as well as poor behaviours such as absenteeism and gossip. These are ‘elephants’ that no organisation wants wandering around.

These are all issues that should have been dealt with, but weren’t. As well as things that were said and done that shouldn’t have – and yet no one has the courage to call another person on their poor behaviour – particularly if that person is more senior to them!

To be able to positively deal with these’ elephants’, is to actively promote and encourage your people to be more assertive.

How can I be more assertive?

Well, it’s not easy. If we had all learned how to be assertive as young children, then exercising this skill may very well be simple and easy.

There are many techniques to becoming more assertive, but here, we’d like to offer up three simple ways to assertiveness:-

1.   Actively listen to what is being said to you and then acknowledge to them that you have not only heard, but understood them. This forces you to place focus on the person speaking to you, and not use the time to build up a defence or attack. By being able to listen, you can demonstrate a degree of understanding and empathy for their situation or their point of view, even if you don’t actually agree with what has been said.

2.   Communicate what your thoughts are and how you are actually feeling. This enables you to state your thoughts and / or feelings without an insistent or apologetic manner. Think of a linking word that doesn’t contradict point 1. above. The word ‘HOWEVER’ can come across that way. Think about some reasonable alternative words, perhaps ‘on the other hand’, ‘in addition’, ‘nevertheless’ or ‘alternatively’ for example.

3.   Explain what you want to happen. This is essential so that you can point towards, in a clear and straightforward way, what actions or outcomes you want to see without any hesitancy.

If you can master just these three basic steps to becoming more assertive, then you can bolster your confidence and competency in this skill.

It can clearly be a lot to take in and do, but with some practice, just like ‘Saying NO’, it will become second nature.

If you would like more information on how to increase employee engagement levels and get your employees ‘on-board’ in your organisation, then why not give us a call on +44 (0)1255 850051 or  contact us via our website, we’d love to hear from you.

Written by Alison McKinney
Alison McKinney is the Project and Quality Assurance Manager at The Survey Initiative, a dedicated employee research organisation devoted to helping its clients gain insight and understanding into what drives employee engagement in their business. Alison has extensive experience in project management and quality assurance and has recently worked on projects for clients as diverse as: WSP Middle East. Natural History Museum, Peverel, Marine Stewardship Council, Accor UK &Ireland and Thompsons Solicitors. Visit http://www.surveyinitiative.co.uk for more information.

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