Become assertive at work
By Samson Osero
The workplace is a beehive of human interactions all focused on achieving certain organisational goals.
Interactions include giving or receiving instructions, meetings, customer relations, and negotiations with third parties.
Either consciously or unconsciously, employees behave in ways that create and maintain good or poor relationships.
Time and again, you interact with colleagues who speak softly to avoid conflict.
They believe that their needs, wants and rights as not as important as those of others.
To further deflate their low self-esteem, these workers get easily upset when criticised and bottle up with anger.
You also relate with co-workers who stand up for their rights without using aggressive behavior.
Since assertive behaviour promotes honest and open working relationships, it is important that you adopt this style most of the time. Here are ways of enhancing your assertiveness to achieve better productivity.
Build your self-confidence
People listen and respond to you depending on how you project your level of self-confidence.
Studies have revealed that your appearance, voice and what you say accounts for 55 per cent, 35 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.
Your appearance, therefore, influences what people think about you. To appear confident, begin by acting as if you are.
People will in turn respond with positivity about what you say. This will gradually reinforce your confidence building initiatives until you genuinely become self-confident.
People who succeed in creating good first impressions usually believe in themselves.
You too can believe in yourself by making daily positive affirmations like: “I have control over my thoughts, feelings and choices” or “yes I can…….”
At the end of each day, take stock of your achievements to push yourself towards many more. Also, identify and develop your strengths, such as ability to speak in public.
Develop a variety of work-related skills to boost your self-confidence instead of magnifying your weaknesses some of which you can do nothing about.
Work on how you communicate
Good communication can create and blossom better working relationships with colleagues, supervisors or customers.
Since people are not mind-readers, clearly state what you want with supportive gestures, where necessary.
This approach is much better than endlessly beating about the bush hoping that the other person will know what you want.
People sometimes do not actively listen to what others are saying. They concentrate on formulating a response without taking time to interpret what has been said.
Others jump into conclusions. For effective communication, pay full attention to all conversations, then respond appropriately.
It is important to clarify any areas of doubt by repeating what you think has been said. Be prepared to accept other people’s opinions and feelings even when they are different from yours.
But feel free to express both your supporting and opposing views, without feeling they are weak. Neither should you feel that it is undesirable to express them.
Appreciate your rights
Both employees and employers have rights and obligations contained in the employment contract and elaborated further in the Human Resource Manuals.
You have a right to know and exercise your rights. For example, you have a right to refuse demands that are not work-related.
To enforce your rights, express yourself clearly and honestly, without worrying of what others will think of you.
Challenge limiting beliefs
People’s beliefs influence their behaviour. For example, submissive people believe that their own needs, wants or views are less important compared to others.
This limiting belief makes them to shelve their needs or views to accommodate other people.
To minimize submissiveness, remind yourself that your needs or wants are as worthwhile as those of others.
You should, therefore, not neglect them to please your colleagues. Most aggressive behaviour is based on the belief that one’s needs or opinions are more superior than others.
You assume that you can get what you want by bullying and demeaning colleagues. You show contempt and hostility towards co-workers during interactions.
This is not productive. In your self-talk, deliberately challenge any thoughts that trigger aggressive behaviour.
For effective assertiveness, say exactly what you want, or how you feel about a situation.
In discussions support your opinion without being deflected with responses that undermine your position. Of course, appreciate other people’s opinions as you influence them to buy into your ideas.
Learn to say “NO”
Submissive people hesitate to say “no” to unreasonable requests thinking that they will be regarded as selfish, mean or rude.
Colleagues sometimes find it hard to refuse requests from others. They end up taking on many responsibilities which affect them from balancing work and family life.
To be assertive, say yes to what you can genuinely do and heck, say “no” if you cannot grant a request.
It does not pay to say “no” and offer many excuses. Provide a simple reason as long as you are not doing so out of feeling anxious or guilty.
Samson Osero, HRD Consultant and Author of Transition into Retirement, [email protected]