Helpful Guides

How to Become More Assertive at Work

By wizu | 15 November 2022

When you have a problem being assertive at work, you may experience negative consequences. These may include stress, burnout, and being passed over for promotions or raises. On the other hand, when you’re more assertive, you have the ability to speak openly about what you want, and you have more confidence and all the benefits that go with being more assertive.


What Does It Mean to Be Assertive?

It’s important to understand what we mean by “assertive.” Being assertive means having the ability to stand up for what you believe without losing your cool. It also means being respectful of the rights of others.

Another way to look at it is that assertiveness means balancing your wants and needs with the rights of others. Being assertive doesn’t mean running roughshod over everyone and everything in your path.

You might think of assertiveness as being a communication skill that applies to all areas of your life. When you’re assertive, it’s possible to communicate with others effectively; however, a lack of assertiveness may mean the avoidance of confrontations of all kinds.

Some of us are naturally assertive, but others are not. However, it is possible to develop assertiveness with practice.


Why is Assertiveness Important? 

Being assertive can mean you can earn the respect of others. It also gives your self-esteem a boost, reducing anxiety and stress.

And when you’re assertive, you also respect the other person(s). In this way, interacting with others who are assertive means relying on mutual respect to communicate correctly and get your ideas across.

Remember, being assertive does not mean forgetting respect and care for those around you. Instead, being assertive is a positive way to have respect for yourself and others. We’re not talking about being aggressive toward others. We mean having the self-confidence to explain your perspective and showing respect for others.

When you’re assertive in the right way, you’re better able to find solutions that are a win for both sides. And it can help if you want to take up a leadership role.

So, how can you be assertive with others? In the following sections, you’ll find tips on how to be assertive in the right way.


How to Be More Assertive

Here are some methods and tips for being more assertive:


1. Use “I” Statements

Being assertive means getting your needs respected and point of view validated. This is not about judging others or telling another person they’re lesser than you because they are wrong.

Use “I” statements in sentences to keep from pointing the finger at others. This way, you develop assertive communication with others.

Here’s an example:

  • Passive: You need to stop taking my parking space.
  • Assertive: I feel upset and uncomfortable when I can’t access my parking space.


2. Use Body Language

Body language communicates a wide range of information, including whether or not you’re feeling confident.

To show confidence, be sure to keep your posture upright (no slouching) and your head high when talking with others.

Avoid crossing your arms and legs, or leaning forward. And don’t take over another person’s space to avoid aggression.


3. Watch Emotions

When you first begin standing up for yourself, you may need help to get what you want in the beginning. It takes time to develop more assertiveness. It’s essential to remember that this is a conversation, and there is a back-and-forth discussion.

Be mindful of your emotions as you speak up. Avoid speaking out of anger or frustration, and don’t speak out spontaneously. Instead, choose to practice mindful breathing and take your time before responding.


4. Practice Eye Contact

It’s good to practice your eye contact as you work to become more assertive. When you’re in a discussion, look the other person in the eye and don’t shift your gaze when you feel like taking your gaze away from them.

You may want to practice this with someone you feel comfortable with, especially if this is difficult for you.


5. Get Comfortable Saying No

Another tip is to get more comfortable saying “No.” Practice saying no and avoid being evasive. These are ways to show that you’re being direct and straightforward.


6. Rehearse Conversations

If you’re feeling nervous about being more assertive, it can be helpful to practice your conversations in front of a mirror.

It’s important to keep these practice sessions clear and to the point. This way, you can learn what your statements will sound like in a real situation. You can then “tone down” statements that may come across as too aggressive.


7. You Can’t Control Others

Assertive communication is all about having more confidence to speak up and make sure your perspective is heard. It’s not about controlling others in any respect.

If a person’s aim is to control, this shows they are being aggressive. You want to avoid any appearance of being aggressive.

Instead, the goal is to be heard and listen to others. Show respect for them and be assertive without being aggressive.


8. Be Open to Positive and Negative Feedback

Feedback can be challenging and intimidating. However, it’s necessary in the workplace, whether it’s positive or negative.

So, be open to hearing positive feedback and receiving them without downplaying them. This shows confidence.

On the other hand, be ready to hear negative or constructive feedback without being defensive.

Positive and negative feedback is valuable and helps you improve when you have the right mindset.


9. Express Yourself in Positive Ways

Another way to be more assertive is to express yourself in positive ways. That means avoiding negativism as much as possible, even when giving constructive feedback.

It’s also important to be respectful of the other person(s) when you’re giving negative feedback.


10. Practice Being Assertive 

One of the best ways to practice being assertive is to practice in low-risk situations. That may mean starting small and practising with someone you feel safe with.


Summing It Up

Being more assertive is all about being more self-confident and maintaining respect for others. It’s also a positive way to get your needs and wants met so you feel happier at work and in your personal life.


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