Assertiveness at work: Have you found the right balance?

27 Apr

What is assertiveness?

  • Respecting yourself and others
  • Taking responsibility for your actions
  • Being honest with yourself and others
  • Sharing understanding other’s situations
  • Dealing with conflict

As human beings, we have two natural responses to perceived threats – fight or flight. This means we either behave aggressively or submissively.

If we behave aggressively, essentially we are looking to satisfy our own needs at any cost even if that is at the expense of somebody else. 

For the individual, the short-term benefits might be that we achieve a sense of authority but in the long-term we might feel a sense of guilt and a feeling of isolation.

Unsurprisingly, behaving submissively is not without its pitfalls either. It’s basically accepting defeat right from the off. We should never feel apologetic just for wanting something different.

Sure, we might gain a certain amount of popularity from colleagues for accepting an unpopular task, or we might get praise from the boss for the same thing. But long-term, problems can arise such as feeling a lack of self-worth, low self-esteem and fatigue from an unmanageable workload.

So, what is it that affects our ability to be assertive?

Self expectation: You must have a positive mental attitude and believe you will achieve what you are setting out to do because if you do, then this will come across in your communication.

Attitude: They influence behaviour and your attitude toward someone will come across in how you talk to them and behave around them. Things like prejudice and certainty prevent effective communication while flexibility and openness facilitates it.

Benefits of communicating assertively:

  • You can influence others by stating your preferences clearly and appropriately
  • You will quickly find out what others think and what they prefer
  • You will feel more confident about making decisions that work and are right for you and others

Finally, being assertive is NOT:

  • Getting your own way at all costs
  • A series of tricks or techniques
  • A way of manipulating others

Being Assertive is one of a number of issues covered in Catalyst’s Active Knowledge Bites™ which we deliver as part of our portfolio of training solutions. More information on these and other courses are available on our website.


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