What does being assertive at work involve?
It was Andrew Salter, an American psychologist, who conceptualized assertiveness at work during the first half of the 20th century. It refers to the ability to “express yourself by defending your rights, but without infringing on the rights of others”. Being assertive at work is about expressing our feelings, including our discomfort. No more keeping quiet if something doesn’t suit us! But beware, it’s not about getting angry or speaking curtly either. You have to be able to express your emotions without getting aggressive.
➡ Let’s imagine that your manager takes credit for all the work. Instead of saying to your colleagues, “he takes credit for all the work, I get so angry because everyone else is always forgotten. It’s all about him!”, it’s much better to express your feelings to the other person directly, whilst remaining respectful: “I would have liked to hear that you found my work important and that I also played my part in the success of this project”.
6 tips to stand up for yourself at work
1. Don’t put yourself down
Believe in yourself! Why should your opinion be less important than someone else’s? A lack of self-confidence is felt at work. Being afraid of others’ judgements and putting yourself down will have a huge impact. Defending your work is essential!
It’s the best way to respond to the situation at hand and not misinterpret a message. Listening to the other person means you respect them. It’s also a way to have a conversation, you can build your argument based on what your colleague or your manager has said.
3. Don't be aggressive
Expressing your point of view doesn’t mean venting your annoyance or your anger! You must start from the assumption that there is a problem with the situation, not the person opposite you. You must not be on the defensive but should resolve conflicts to move the situation forward.
4. Get straight to the point
When you express a feeling, you shouldn’t beat around the bush. Expressing your thoughts clearly and concisely is the best way to ensure that the message is understood properly. In order to do this, you must define your objective clearly so that you are as concise as possible.
5. Use subjective communication
Using this type of communication allows you to express what you feel and think. Using the pronoun “I” gives you the opportunity to express yourself without blaming, judging, criticizing or placing the responsibility on others.
6. Say no when you want to
If someone tells you no, you will accept that they don’t want the same things as you. So, you can say no too! You’re not saying no the person but to the request instead.
>>> Discover our tips on learning to say no and asserting yourself
Editor’s note: Practice makes perfect!
Some people are assertive by nature, others aren’t, but the good news is that assertiveness can be learnt! Practice every day, and if you didn’t dare say difficult things, write down on paper what you would have liked to say. Say these sentences out loud and keep in mind the initial objective: communicating clearly and asserting your opinion while taking into account the sensitivities of the person opposite you. Go on, practice!
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