How to Be Assertive in the Workplace

Ever wanted to say no to your boss but just couldn’t? Or how about finally telling your co-worker that you don’t like how they make too many personal phone calls? There are a lot of situations in the workplace that ask for you to speak up, and as confident as we may be, we falter and fail to speak our mind because we’re afraid people will think we’re being too pushy or mean. The truth is, being assertive doesn’t mean being mean, it means you’re speaking your mind in a thoughtful, forward and concise way. As mentioned in this CNN article, assertiveness is one of the keys to your success in the workplace.

For some people, being assertive is something that comes natural to them, these people are also most likely to be good leaders. If you aren’t a natural leader and don’t like to speak your mind in a way that makes you look like you’re stepping on people’s toes, then working on being assertive may take time. Being assertive is a skill and like learning any skill it takes practice, so don’t feel bad if the first time you try to be assertive you feel awkward and weird about it.

The first step to being assertive is to recognize the situations that call for it. It could be that you’ve been looking to get a raise or you’re feeling overwhelmed at work and need to start turning down tasks your boss throws at you. When speaking up to your boss, have what you want to say thought out beforehand; this is crucial to being assertive.

Timing is also important when it comes to being assertive. If for example you are asking for a raise, you just can’t bring this subject up to your boss out of the blue. Instead, wait for the opportune moment, such as when you have made a major and highly recognized accomplishment in the office. That way, your good performance will be fresh in their memory and it’s a good segway to you asking for your raise.

Aggressiveness can be mistaken for assertiveness. In order to come off as assertive rather than aggressive, you must recognize and respect the other person’s feelings. If you have an annoying co-worker who is doing something that distracts you from your work, tell them so in a direct tone devoid of anger. Of course, include a please and thank you.

Assert your thoughts on this article in the comments below — perhaps you’re out of practice!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Victor1558

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