Maura O'Hea Maura O'Hea Maura O'Hea Maura O'Hea
over 3 years ago by Maura O'Hea

Assertiveness at work

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Empowering teams to be assertive at work 


Assertiveness: what do you associate with this word? 


Many people don’t understand what assertiveness actually is. It’s often mistaken for aggression; when in fact, it’s the opposite!  


Assertiveness is about balancing how we communicate and how we treat the other person in the conversation. It means you have enough self-respect to put forward your point of view, in a way that is direct and honest, whilst being respectful towards the other person.  


When you are assertive, you talk openly about your needs and have the courage to speak candidly. It’s important to remember, assertiveness is based on mutual respect.  


Why is assertiveness important at work? 


Assertiveness is a communication skill. Displaying assertiveness is key to working in a team; it allows you to raise issues, put forward ideas, take ownership and drive change. It also helps you earn the respect of others around you and boosts your self-esteem. 


Assertive people can navigate challenging situations calmly and handle the frustration of others with confidence, leading to efficient problem solving and the best possible results. 


How can you learn to be more assertive? 


Like learning any new skill, learning assertiveness takes time and practice. Here’s some tips on how to become more assertive at work: 


  • Show empathy and be curious about the other person’s point of view. Whether or not they are acting professionally, they will still have their reasons behind their opinion or behaviour. Listen to their needs so that the conversation shifts to a more positive dialogue. 


  • Learn to say no more often to get into the practice of being assertive. If you find it hard to turn down requests, try saying ‘not yet’, ‘not now’, or negotiating an exchange of tasks.  


  • Be mindful of your tone so that your message doesn’t get lost. Keep your body language open and warm and pay attention to your arms and posture. This will help you get into the practice of demonstrating assertiveness in a way that doesn’t feel too unfamiliar to you.  


  • Think win-win rather than assuming the other person wants to undermine you. Build on their ideas rather than dismissing them or withdrawing from the conversation. Work together on the challenge or issue; after all, assertiveness is about getting the best results and collaboration will get you there quicker.  


  • Take a deep breath when you feel yourself getting emotional. Your feelings are entirely valid; however the role of assertiveness is to not allow these feelings to drive your behaviour. Pause, take a deep breath and think for a few seconds before responding.   


Assertiveness is something we encourage in all our team members at Next Generation. Confidence to raise issues, put forward ideas and speak our minds; it’s what makes our team as strong as it is.  


Will you be learning to become more assertive?