Assertiveness is confidence translated into action. Developing an assertive image is not easy. It is not about bullying or brow-beating, but simply allowing your conviction in carrying out a conversation. Constant practice is necessary. Those who are assertive are comfortable with themselves and others are likely to be comfortable with them too. A healthy self-respect grows between assertive managers and their staff. How do you develop an assertive image?
Here are 5 super tips to help you develop an assertive image:
1. Start by assessing your own behaviour.
The first step is to start by paying attention to how you behave. Do you speak in an assertive manner? Are you too passive or too aggressive? You need to identify why you do not communicate or behave in an assertive manner. Be aware of how you speak as well as your non-verbal communication cues such as your body language and how you present yourself to others.
2. Keep track of your interactions.
The next step is to jot down observations of yourself in a journal. As American psychologist John Dewey once said, “We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience”. When you dedicate time to reflect, it will have an positive impact on the behaviour you want to change or improve on. Record the situations in each day where you find yourself being assertive and situations where you behaved aggressively or passively.
3. Reflect on the aggressive/passive scenarios.
Think back to the aggressive and passive scenarios you have encountered in your day to day work. Review your replies and think about what you specifically said. Consider the alternative responses that could have allowed you to respond in a more assertive manner. Ask yourself how you could have handled the situation better. While you might have started to communicate in an assertive manner, did you lose it during your conversation and slip briefly into aggressive mode? If it did happen, what do you think prompted the lapse? Imagine yourself managing the situation in a new way and try out new responses to situations. It may also be helpful to model yourself after someone who has handled similar situations well.
4. Express your feelings and needs clearly.
It is easy to assume that others already know what you want. The best managers are open and direct communicators who are able to express their needs, feelings and wants to others. These managers communicate their goals and objectives for their employees in a straightforward manner. There are instances where one may be articulate but still lack the specific skills to respond to praise, aggressive situations or other emotional situations. Therefore, the problem here is poor communication skills and you will need to learn how to express your feelings. One technique is to adopt the use of “I” statements as they enable you to focus on the problem or situation without accusations or blame on others. For instance, if there is an employee who tends to interrupts you during meetings, instead of saying “you always interrupts me”, tell the employee that “I’d like to finish describing my idea without interruption”.
5. Learn to say no.
Many of us have been programmed to say yes since we were young. When someone asked you to do something, especially an adult like a teacher, you knew you had to obey or there would be serious consequences. We carry along this frame of mind into adulthood and find it hard to say no because we want to please the people around us.
It is easy to say ‘yes’ because we want to please others and be seen in a positive light. But when you learn to say no, you are setting healthy limits that will prevent you from getting aggressive especially when you are under pressure. Here are some helpful tips to bear in mind in learning how to say no:
a) Do not feel pressured to respond immediately. If someone asks you to do something that interests you, rather than respond right away, pause and say “Let me check my calendar and get back to you”. This buys you some time to consider in detail whether that is a priority or you could make time to take up a new project or task.
b) Practice saying no. Try declining others or saying no in a way that is natural and comfortable for you. When the opportunity comes around, you will be able to say no without fumbling and avoid saying the dreaded yes.
c) Be firm but polite. You don’t need to worry about others calling you selfish or being a jerk if you are firm in your reply. Again, this may require some practice on your own in order to demonstrate that you are firm in a non-aggressive manner.
We hope that this article is helpful. Do you have any tips you would like to add?
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