How to be More Assertive at Work – Part Two

Here, we give some more techniques on how to be more assertive at work. 

Own Up to Mistakes

Believe it or not, there’s nothing that shows more confidence than being honest in your mistakes or mishaps. Admitting when you’ve made a mistake demonstrates your self-assurance and your willingness to learn from it. 

Be Proactive

Demonstrating that you can think ahead confirms to everyone around you that you’ve got the present work under control and are a capable employee. Make sure you’re all over the project parameters, or the work schedule for the day. Not only what you have to do, but everyone in your team. 

Welcome the Uncomfortable

Don’t be afraid to skirt around issues – address difficult conversations head on and don’t misdirect blame. Being real and down-to-earth in how you confront an issue will lead to a lot of supporters and is a true demonstration of self-assurance.

We’ve talked at length about what positive assertiveness is. Something that assertiveness isn’t, is passive-aggression. Always be clear and direct about your needs and wants. If you think you are in a frame of mind that is overly emotional, stop talking. Wait until you are able to be calm, firm, and direct. If you can do so, speak up right away about a problem or issue. Do not let problems fester and grow larger. Do not stifle frustrations and minimise their impact on your ability to do your job. On the other hand, do not make every small issue a catastrophe. For now, just realise that you should not blow small problems out of proportion.

Being assertive with co-workers and superiors can be tricky.

Here is a very simple example: If a co-worker, colleague, or superior takes your pen, do not blow it out of proportion. You do not have to assert yourself over isolated, minor incidents, even if they annoy you. However, if a co-worker continually takes your pens, you need to say something, such as, “Did you know that you can get pens from the supply room?” or simply, “Please stop taking my pens.” What you don’t do, is say that everything is ok, and then build up resentment that can boil over at a later date. 

If you are a problem-solver, a much better way to diffuse a situation like this would be that you might grab a few extra pens while you are in the supply room and give them to the culprit with these words, “Here, I got these from the supply room for you. I need my pens to do my work. In the future, if you need pens, please do not take all of mine. You can get pens in the supply room.” Try to be good-natured about it if possible. You also could physically show them where they can get pens if they need them and say, “If you need pens, you can get them here.” If a superior continually takes your pens, get yourself some extras and put them in your drawer, or get him or her some extras and put them in his or her office. You have become passive-aggressive if you begin hiding pens to keep a co-worker from taking them or if you start going into his or her office or cubicle and taking supplies in retaliation. This type of behaviour will create a hostile confrontation eventually. It’s just an example, but one that will probably resonate with many people who feel unable to be calmly assertive at the moment something happens which is simply unfair. 

Being assertive with co-workers and superiors can be tricky. It is important to avoid blowing up minor, isolated incidents and to be direct, clear, and firm when dealing with situations in which you do need to assert yourself. Be honest. Be good-natured if you can and try humour when appropriate to keep things from being overly tense.

Finally, a word about salary – this is possibly the most important time to be genuinely assertive, without being argumentative. The best way to be confident in this conversation is to know your worth. But the best way to appear cool, calm, and collected is to rehearse. By practicing, we can trick our brains into thinking that we’ve been there, done that. Even if the only time you’ve been there, done that is while having the conversation in a mirror at home. The more you practice, the easier it will be for your brain to access the conversation with ease.

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