Being Assertive in the Office

Being assertive is very important because it is the best way to get respect. It shows that you are rational and in control of yourself. It’s also the best way to get what you want without offending anyone. Being assertive is one of the best sure-fire ways to start climbing the corporate ladder and to be respected by your peers and/or employees because if you are not assertive you are either passive or aggressive and neither of those are categories that you want to be under.

When trying to be assertive don’t be emotional. Being emotional in business is never a good thing. There is a thin line between being aggressive and assertive and it is a line that is very easy and dangerous to cross. The best way to avoid being or seeming aggressive is to be in control of your emotions. If you act too aggressively people will feel defensive and offended. Neither of those is what you want considering you want people to feel open to whatever idea you are presenting. If you feel emotional don’t confront anybody, wait until you have your emotions in check. Try to look at the situation in an objective way and see what the other point of view could be. Once you feel calm and confident that you can remain that way you can confront someone, but not a second before.  Time can be your friend, use it.

being assertiveIt is important to remain in control of yourself but at the same time realize that you cannot control the actions or reactions of other people. Accept that you can’t do it and don’t even try. Control yourself and how you present your terms. You must present your case in terms that are professional and clear. Remain calm. If you don’t control the way you act, other people will be able to control you.  If you are a loose cannon, they’ll figure out how to push your buttons. If you’re a doormat they’ll take advantage of being able to push you around. Your behavior is really the only thing you can 100 percent control. Use it to your advantage.

When presenting your case make sure your goals are clear. Make sure there is a purpose to the confrontation and make sure others can see it. It is important that they know you are not having an emotional reaction to something but rather that you’re trying to have a productive conversation. If something isn’t working, explain why. If something needs changed, explain why.  Also, have examples on hand. Many people need examples in order to understand why something isn’t working or why something should be changed. Have those prepared before confronting anyone.

When speaking make sure your voice is firm but relaxed and that you speak fluently with few hesitations. Keep a steady speed that is neither fast nor slow and make sure your volume is neither too loud nor too quiet. Just as your ideas need to be clear, your speech and words should also be clear. Avoid using slang or potentially offensive language.

Another thing you need to make sure to pay close attention to is your body language or non-verbal communication. The wrong body language can give people the wrong idea about how you are treating them because you’ve made them feel a certain way. Furthermore,there won’t be anything you can do to remedy the situation later as they won’t know exactly why they feel that way. Make sure you sit up straight — no slouching! It is also important to maintain eye contact.  You should not look at anything in the room except the person to whom you are speaking. And you should only be looking at their eyes but without staring. Do not make any gestures that are distracting or that can make you seem nervous such as touching your hair, rubbing your legs, picking your nails, etc. You should use your hands to speak so that you don’t seem like a robot, but make open hand movements that aren’t distracting but rather calming.

The point of being assertive is to find the perfect balance between being aggressive and being passive. Passive people never get what they want and aggressive people often get what they want but by making enemies along the way. By being assertive you can have the best of both worlds.


Target Language

Showing you’re cooperative:

What are your thoughts on this?

Is that something you would consider?

Does that sound reasonable to you?

Giving suggestions:

How about we decrease the number of clients?

Perhaps we ought to consider outsourcing.

What would you think if I switched accounts with Anderson?

Seeking others’ opinions:

How does that fit in with your ideas?

Is that along the lines of what you were thinking?

Willingness to explore other solutions:

How can we get around this problem?

Is there something else that can be done?



Top 5

Top 5 questions to practice assertivity

  1. Be quick to decide.
  2. Have a clear vision of what you want.
  3. Have a clear vision of what you expect.
  4. Be prepared to back up your arguments.
  5. Actively face your fears and act.