Being assertive is different from being aggressive.
Speaking up at work about your thoughts and feelings about an idea or project is perfectly fine (in a respectful manner, of course). Constructive feedback is beneficial to the organization because it will trigger a thought process on what can be changed to achieve a better result.
I often hear people saying that they are afraid to speak up at work as they are afraid of offending people, jeopardizing their careers, and for women, being seen as having a domineering or overbearing personality. This misconception is untrue and will only happen if you communicate in a rude and disrespectful tone.
Being assertive has many benefits, such as:
- Being able to bring across your thoughts and ideas to others, thereby adding value to them and creating win-win situations;
- Increases visibility of your capabilities and your thought processes within the company;
- Winning respect from your colleagues and superiors as you are sharing your thoughts and feedback honestly and directly and are open to discussion.
Remember, being assertive is not about being belligerent. Assertiveness means you exhibit healthy confidence to stand up for yourself while still valuing the rights of others.
Here are some tips to becoming more assertive today:
1. Becoming aware of the misunderstandings that you have regarding assertiveness and decide to assert yourself positively moving forward.
2. Listen actively and try to understand the other person's thoughts and feelings without interrupting before you give your comments.
3. Practice makes perfect - make it a point to pay attention to what you are saying as well as your non-verbal cues while you are speaking up, and take note of what can be improved the next time.
4. Use 'I' statements such as "I feel, I think, and I believe..."
5. Be patient with yourself. Self-improvement is a lifelong journey, and there may be times that you might not be as assertive as you had wanted to be. It will only get better with time as you practice regularly.
I hope you found this post useful, and may you have the courage to be assertive starting from now!