The Importance of Being Assertive in the Workplace

In today’s highly competitive workplace, effective communication is the mantra to successful day-to-day interaction and career escalation. It is extremely important to get your point across without fear. In fact, assertive people are the people who tend to get what they want in the workplace as they speak up and make themselves heard. On the contrary, less assertive people who can’t seem to be very dynamic about how they want things to be are generally viewed as doubtful, irresolute and weak.

Before discussing more reasons why it is imperative to be assertive in the workplace, we need to comprehend the difference between being assertive and aggressive. In simple words, assertiveness is the middle point of the line that connects ‘passive’ and ‘aggressive’.

Assertive is a balance point where both solutions and negotiations can be found and enables you to put your point forward without being afraid or shy. You need to have a crystal clear picture of the message you are trying to convey and when done rightly, it is called being assertive.

Just think over it: you are confident in your abilities and can accept your limitations with a smile, you are able to listen to colleague ideas and discuss issues with them. You are able to stand up for your own beliefs in a reasonable manner and are prepared to see the best in every situation. If this is the case, there is nothing that can get between you and success. Some more benefits of being assertive in the workplace is that assertiveness leads to:

1.   enhanced self-confidence and self-esteem
2.    better personal and team performance
3.    superior stress management
4.    enhanced negotiation skills
5.    enhanced interpersonal relations
6.    creating a safe environment
7.    an enhanced culture of innovation
8.    to constructive change

As mentioned above being assertive is often confused with being pushy or aggressive. There are situations when the two are not very dissimilar. In fact, there is a very thin line between the terms ‘assertive’ and ‘aggressive and we further discuss strategies on how to be assertive without being aggressive.

Pushy or aggressive behavior can be annoying, selfish, rude and controlling and more importantly being pushy can help you win the battle but not the war. The key here is to transform aggression into assertiveness by simply aligning personal and organisational interests. It is important to respect both yourself and the other people involved. It is very important to understand that by stating your needs, it does not always mean that they will be met. It is important to understand that others might have different views and it is imperative to hear them out and then rationally come to a conclusion.

There is absolutely no questioning that assertiveness is important for healthy functioning in the workplace. It is just about finding the middle line. While there would be disagreements in the workplace, how do you make your case more impactful and how do you make co-workers perceive you rightly and understand your absolute value. Here are some strategies that allow you to be assertive without being pushy.

1. Differentiate Person from Position: Disagreement can often challenge people’s views and often it is important to differentiate the disparity between the outlooks you’re pushing back against from the person who holds it. Doing so will facilitate you to diverge in a way that won’t be observed as egoistic. On the contrary, it demonstrates admiration for how they came to see things as they do, while offering an alternate viewpoint or perspective.  What’s significant is that colleagues and seniors recognise you’re not pushing them back but rather the position.

2. Offer a Solution: You must be equipped with recommendations or alternatives. By simply saying, ‘I disagree’ you won’t be getting anywhere.

3. Back your Position: Get ready ahead with excellent examples that support your case. Most people tend to be risk reluctant, so providing examples from comparable situations may reduce the doubts and qualms of others and tone down their fears.

4. Inquire before you Promote: If there is something you oppose to, try saying something like, ‘I think I understand what you are trying to say, but don’t really understand how to get from the problem to the solution, etc. This moves you from campaigning for your own belief to inquiring about others.  By asking, you will be in a better position to spin the discussion back to the point which is most appealing to you.

5. Admit Defeat Courteously: If you’re going to lose, accept defeat genially. Ensure no trust is damaged in your relationships and you’ll likely earn more respect as someone who had the courage to speak his or her views candidly and respectfully.

Have ever used any of the strategies discussed above?. Please tell us in the comment section below…




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