We all want to be assertive in our communication, confidently defend our position and openly express our feelings, whether it’s to decline an invitation or to confront a co-worker. However, although it seems, communicating in this way is not easy.
The truth is, many people are struggling to be assertive because it’s hard to know where the line is between looking too strong or aggressive or looking weak and insecure.
The tips we have prepared for you can help you improve your communication so that you feel more comfortable talking and defending yourself whenever necessary.
Assertiveness in communication: what is assertiveness
Assertiveness is a skill that relies heavily on effective communication while respecting the thoughts, desires and opinions of others.
Assertive people communicate clearly and respectfully their desires, emotions, thoughts, needs, positions and limits to others. They leave no doubt about your position, whatever the subject.
People with a high level of assertiveness do not shy away from defending their views or goals and tend to try to influence others to see their side. They are also generally open to praise and constructive criticism.
It is possible to improve assertiveness through practical exercises and experience.
If you’re still in college and you’re about to start your first job, you’re at the perfect time to start working on this skill.
Assertive communication at work: techniques to improve
Not being able to communicate in the workplace can have negative consequences on your performance and well-being.
When you are assertive, you can ask for what you need, openly communicate what you want and also speak when something doesn’t suit you.
Assertive communication at work allows you to approach situations with confidence and stand out positively. However, we know that this is not easy for everyone.
There are two important components to becoming more assertive: (1) learning how to get treated with respect and (2) developing communication skills.
The following techniques can help you get more comfortable with speaking up and advocating for yourself.
Plan responses in advance
Do you usually answer “yes” to what is asked of you without thinking about the question first? If you tend to do this even when you want to say ‘no’, we recommend you to use some phrases like:
- “Let me come back to you about that.”
- “I need to check my schedule.”
- “I already have plans in the schedule for that day/time.”
- “I won’t make it, because I already have plans.”
If you decide to say that you need to check a few things before giving an answer, make sure you actually give an answer.
Above all, remember that you are not required to explain why a request or invitation was refused.
Start by practicing with people you know, at home, at college or at the student residence in Lisbon where you live, and then at work.
Don’t let the guilt overtake you
If you feel guilty about asserting yourself and saying what you want, think and feel, remember that saying no to a request doesn’t mean you’re rejecting the person – let alone mistreating them!
Rehearse with someone you know and trust
If you’re trying to solve a problem at work or simply wanting to improve your communication, consider rehearsing with a trusted friend, practicing different conversational styles. Write and say what you want to say out loud. Basically, it’s not very different from studying at home.
Remember to ask for feedback on how clear you are being and how the other person might see the situation.
Pay attention to how they respond to your tone of voice and body language. Are you communicating without becoming shy or hostile?
Rate yourself and adjust your approach according to your opinion.
Incorporates an assertive posture
Communication is not just verbal. Before entering a stressful situation or a difficult conversation, adopt an assertive body posture that makes you feel more confident and secure.
Stand up, open your chest, put your shoulders back and lift your head. Maintains eye contact and a neutral facial expression.
Remember that assertiveness and aggression are different things.
Assertiveness means declaring your needs or requests respectfully and within your limits.
If setting limits seems aggressive or uncomfortable to you, consider the following scenario: Your boss is constantly giving you tasks without seeming to care if you can take on more projects.
An aggressive response would be to blow him up in a meeting or demand that someone else does the work for you.
An assertive response, on the other hand, would be to schedule a meeting with your boss to politely state the situation and to discuss a new task assignment system or find ways to better delegate responsibilities.
Types of assertive communication at work
Maintaining assertive communication at work can be very challenging.
Learning to be assertive takes time, self-control and confidence. Here are the 5 types of assertive communication at work that will help you develop your assertiveness skills and improve your performance at work. When you feel that you communicate well and that your needs are heard, you automatically become more productive and organised.
Speak and express yourself openly
People won’t read your mind, be honest and specific.
When giving your opinion, often use “I” instead of “you”.
For example: “I have another suggestion” instead of “You are wrong”. Or, “I noticed the deadline was missed” instead of “You missed the deadline.”
If you have difficulty refusing requests, learn to say no. Saying ‘no’ is not selfish. It just shows that you are able to prioritise and set healthy boundaries.
Shows curiosity about the other person’s point of view
When talking to someone in your workplace, ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to the answer. If people aren’t being reasonable, listening to their needs and expectations can be challenging, but if you make sure they feel listened to and respected, the conversation can shift to a more positive dialogue.
Be careful with your tone of voice
It’s not just what you say that matters, but how you say it.
Keep your tone of voice and body language open and warm. When preparing for a social interaction, think about your body language and how you can show that everything is fine. Pay special attention to your facial expressions, arms and posture.
Think everyone wins
Try not to assume that the other person is trying to harm you or belittle you. Even if she is, don’t treat her badly and don’t walk away from the conversation. Offer solutions and ask them to help you reach a consensus.
Answer, do not react
If you find yourself feeling strong emotions and about to “burst out” in an argument, it can be very difficult for you to remain calm and assertive.
Take a deep breath, pause and think.
Your feelings and emotions are entirely valid, but assertiveness does not mean allowing all your feelings to direct your behavior.
When done skillfully, assertive communication is often the best approach in any situation.
It’s never wrong to express your feelings, and there are many ways to do it with respect.
If you think these tips can help other people, share this article on your social networks.