From time to time, you might ask yourself, “how to be more assertive at work.” It is natural when you care about what you are doing. You might know someone in the office that is more assertive.
They get more work, maybe are paid more, maybe climb the ladder faster. You don’t necessarily want to be them, but you want to be like them. They have this instinct on how to maneuver through the work environment with the skill of a well-trained craftsman.
Furthermore, they seem to glide through conversations, and inner-personal work relationships with ease, a hot knife through butter. They may even walk with a glow or an air of effectiveness and confidence.
Well, there are two controlling thoughts here that you need to understand. Firstly, for some people, it is natural to have that extrovert confidence at work. However, remember, it doesn’t mean that they are competent at their jobs. That is different.
Secondly, just because you might be less extroverted, you can still be more assertive at work. It takes self-discipline, time, and practice. But for starters, take these 7 steps on how to be more assertive at work and go forth and be the person you want to be.
1. Assertive Vs. Pushy (Realize The Difference)
Don’t be that jerk that rises to power because they are pushy. You don’t want to be that person. When you want to be more assertive at work, you are truly asking how you can grow your equality of voice with your colleagues and management.
You want your voice to be heard, respected, and empowered. That is the key to being assertive, having equality. Having equality in the workforce empowers you to be more vocal and productive. This grows a level of comfort that can help you open up and be more expressive.
On the other end of the spectrum is the “office jerk” that is solely aggressive instead of assertive. Instead of empowering equality the “office jerk” aggressively limits the rights of others.
Their opinion not only matters but rather it is the proper and only opinion to have. They feel important not because they are an equal member of the workforce, but rather they feel more important and more significant than the other members.
Internal trust and relationship building are based on the understanding of equality, not segregation. You matter, and your voice matters because you are an equally important member of the greater whole. Don’t replace honest discussion with aggressive demands or lecturing.
2. Remember The Value Of Yourself And What You Contribute
Many people feel restricted from being assertive because they don’t feel valuable enough to contribute or ask for assistance or for recognition.
Understandably, this can be a debilitating feeling that is akin to carrying a weighted bag on your back all day. That personal and emotional disdain or lack of personal respect can be tiring and highly limiting to your personal growth.
The bad news is that this won’t change overnight. The good news is that it can change. Once it does change, you will have complete control over it and how your future progresses.
When you hear the words, “know the value of yourself.” It is easy to say, “sure if I want to be more assertive at work, I need to be happier.”
However, this isn’t the meaning behind self-value. Self-value is the recognition that your voice is necessary for your own development and that your development is valuable.
Maybe you aren’t the person that you want to be. Maybe you are on a journey to get there. That journey is important because your self-value tells you it is important. Your growth is important.
When you are assertive at work, you aren’t doing it for the good of the company or your colleagues. You are doing it for the good of your personal journey. You are growing yourself.
Self-worth and self-value mean contributing to the conversation for the purposes of growing into a fuller and more capable person.
3. Understand Your Internal Limitations
If you want to be more assertive at work you need to know where your limitations are.
Saying yes to everything will only leave you burnt out. You can’t physically do everything. Furthermore, you can’t emotionally do everything either.
You probably wish you could do anything and everything, but that is the beauty of humanity, you have limitations. You learn from your internal limitations.
Those limitations teach you about yourself by focusing your priorities on what you can do and what you can become. This means it isn’t just okay to say “no”; it is imperative that you can say “no”.
However, before you can say “no,” you need to know when you should say “no.” First, explore yourself, your physical and emotional limitations, and what you see as too much.
For example, are you being asked to do too much late-night work and you are neglecting your family or yourself? If this is a problem you need to identify it as an internal limitation.
This takes time. Make a list. Review it. Rewrite it. Determine what is important to you in your professional and personal lives.
Colleagues, who see you as an equal, will respect your boundaries. Saying “no” instills in them the idea that you value yourself and your health. Saying “no” means that you understand your position and that they should respect it as well.
You don’t have to give a reason. However, if there is a gap in understanding, you should indicate why you can’t and suggest an alternative. Say “Sorry, I can’t stay late. I have to care for my family. Maybe we could do this first thing tomorrow or ask another colleague.”
4. Practice Being Assertive (It Won’t Happen Overnight)
When you are looking to be more assertive at work you can’t expect everything to change overnight. Furthermore, you won’t be an expert at it instantly.
Rather, understanding how to be assertive is a skill that requires practice and commitment. Be aware of your interactions. Understand how they started, progressed, and ended. If it helps, you can journal the experience so that you can dissect how you could have acted and what you could have said differently.
Research distinct strategies on what to do in certain circumstances. Try them out. Not every strategy will work for your personality or situation. You will have to modify it to fit your needs.
It does get easier with time. Think of it as learning how to cook in a different cuisine. You will slowly learn the spices you like and the dishes that just don’t work for you. Soon you will be able to deliver a feast for the eyes, nose, and belly.
5. Listen To How You Talk
Most people at work talk all the time, or at least some of the time. If you want to be more assertive at work, then how to talk is just as important as what you say. How do you talk with your colleagues or your boss or clients?
Words and impressions of body language matter. Here are a few tips to take when you are in a one-on-one or group setting at work:
- Look people in the eyes when you talk with them.
- Ask deeper questions that elicit more conversation.
- Volunteer for work that you find interesting, not just anything.
- Don’t ignore or be silent about your feelings on a topic of discussion.
- Accept and invite feedback on your work.
- Use a curious, informative, and calm tone, even in conflicts.
- Don’t restrict your body; use your hands to express yourself.
- Be confident; don’t hedge on your requests or questions.
- Don’t leave a conversation without understanding everything.
- Ask questions even if it is uncomfortable.
- Remember that your participation is about your growth.
6. Ask Questions To Be More Informed And Engaged
When you ask questions in a group setting, you are showing that you are engaging in the conversation. Other people see this as a positive, that you want to be there and that you want to be a part of the process.
The best way to show your equality to the group is to have the group pull you up through answering questions. Generally, if you want to be more assertive at work, then you need to show people that you are capable of that label.
When the group answers your questions they see you as being educated and part of the greater whole.
More importantly, when you ask questions on topics you don’t fully understand, you gain learning that can give you the confidence to feel capable. You grow. Your confidence grows, and your abilities develop.
For example, maybe you don’t know how to apply a certain process. Ask how you should go about applying the process. Listen to the answer and write anything down that you need to remember.
Then repeat the answer back to the group with any follow-up questions or clarifying comments. This may seem basic but it is beyond powerful in creating a new conversation around your abilities.
You are the focus. You are both the contributor and the learner. In that moment, the group recognizes you as an equal.
7. Understand That Growth Is A Neverending Adventure
To become more assertive at work is akin to becoming a master craftsman. It is a worthy journey for the individual that accepts the commitment of time and energy required for personal growth.
It is an amazing journey that never truly ends. You just become better and better.
Remember the vision you started with about who you wanted to become. See if that is still relevant or how it has changed with time. Think about how far you have come and how far you can continue to go.
The realization that there are 86,400 seconds each day. What are you doing today, so that tomorrow you are a step closer to where you want to be? If not now, then when?
eightysixfourhundred, make them count