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Being assertive is a positive personality characteristic that helps individuals show their existence in society. People with this trait are aware of their rights, as well as the rights of others, and can reflect on this awareness. They are a benefit to both themselves and society. Being assertive is the happy medium between being aggressive and being passive. It involves standing up for something you value. It is a healthy, prosocial behaviour in the middle of a continuum. While no one enjoys being walked on, many dislike being overly aggressive. Respect comes from standing up for yourself. Not only will others respect you, but you will respect yourself for speaking up. You bring value, and what you say is impactful. Being assertive will get you what you want without having to dominate or demoralize someone. This set of skills will help you become more of an advocate, not only for yourself but for others.

Assertiveness does not impede another’s right to get what you want. It is not coming out as the champion of a heated argument (too many people need to understand this!). Assertiveness is knowing when and how to demonstrate your view. Positive assertiveness means working to meet your needs while also sometimes meeting the needs of others.

Some benefits of positive assertiveness include becoming a better leader, reducing conflicts, reducing frustration, relieving stress, increasing the quality of your relationships (at work and in your personal life), and getting more of what you want in life.

Why should you be Assertive in the Workplace?

Being assertive allows you to solve the problem of being misunderstood. Going forward, this can positively influence the following beneficial characteristics that impact social adjustment: expressing oneself, being self-confident, being accepted by others, and being approved by others in social areas. On the other hand, allowing yourself to be non-assertive will threaten interpersonal relationships, and emotional problems will arise; lowering self-esteem can even be a ‘time bomb,’ which at any time can threaten the continuity of one’s personal and social relationships and mental health, namely, the risk of anxiety and stress.

Being passive may mean someone suppresses their feelings and pretends that everything is okay. A lack of assertiveness may induce anxiety and stress. Consequently, being non-assertive may affect workplace relationships because one party could feel used by another.

How to be more Assertive at Work?

While assertive skills come naturally for some individuals, these skills can be developed through practice. The first important step is to understand one’s own personality. Of course, this comes from asking a few questions to oneself and answering them honestly, regardless of whether that answer is likeable or not. Ask yourself questions such as:

Finding the right time and cause will be critical. Pushing back against every minor detail could lessen your advantage when speaking up for topics you are passionate about. If you assert yourself at every turn for unimportant issues, being assertive is less likely to work when needed. Choose your battles. Listed below are 5 steps to help you be more assertive at work-

  • Using ‘I’ statements- Clear and specific “I” statements allow us to share our thoughts without seeming accusatory. For example, try saying, “I disagree,” or “I would like you to help with this.” Keep the focus on yourself instead of on your coworker. Use sentences like “I work better when …” instead of “You need to stop …” Practice saying no. A simple no without hesitation is direct and effective. “No” can be your entire response, or you can provide a brief explanation if appropriate. If this is a challenge for you, perhaps you may consider saying, “No, I am not able to do that right now.”
  • Declare your needs- Declare your needs unapologetically. Do not provide multiple excuses when declaring your needs; just declare them. When asking for time off, do not provide countless reasons, such as the fact that you have been really busy with family issues, you have been having headaches, and one of your coworkers recently got time off. Instead, just firmly ask for time off and say you will be ready to resume working hard when you get back to work. Sometimes, declaring your needs will require you to refuse a task. In this case, saying no can be difficult; however, it is a necessary part of being assertive.
  • Nonverbal communication- It will be critical to maintain eye contact and body language. Both will convey confidence. Gaze has the power to modulate cognition and attention. Not only does it show your attention, but it also commands the attention of the person you are speaking to. Likewise, be mindful of your tone and volume. You will want your tone to be friendly but firm, and your volume should be loud enough to convey confidence but appropriate for the space that you are in.
  • Be decisive, move with conviction- After declaring your needs, such as a day off, stick with it! If you double back on what you said, you may not be taken seriously in the future. For example, if you were previously granted a day off and later asked to come into work for a few hours, politely but firmly decline. If you concede, well, you know the next time will not be much different. The same goes for changing your statements. Remember that assertiveness is the “tendency to actively defend, pursue, and speak out” for your own interests.
  • Mindfulness- Mindfulness is bringing one’s attention to the present moment. These types of exercises will help you be more present, which will help improve your ability to process your emotions in front of others and have more positive perceptions, which will help in making fewer communication errors.

The Take-Home Message

Assertiveness calls for conviction. It will lead to a happier and healthier life. You will gain confidence and self-respect. You will be viewed as a leader, and others will seek your opinion. Being more self-assured and being able to advocate for yourself is for everybody and everybody can attain it with a little bit of practice if it is not already present within. Assertiveness is a part of the personal potential and it is a prerequisite for self-actualisation.

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