Assertiveness is a skill that allows you to clearly express your needs, opinions and feelings in a firm but gentle manner without infringing on the rights of others. Contrary to popular belief, assertiveness does not mean being aggressive or steam rolling over other people. Assertiveness entails standing up for yourself by teaching others how to treat you in a way that is not condescending nor prescriptive.
What I have seen with my assertiveness courses is that people with assertiveness skills don’t just survive in the corporate world, they thrive.
The benefits of assertiveness in the work place:
- Earning respect
Assertive communication requires congruence or realness where your verbal and non-verbal communication match whilst also having empathy for others. Communicating opinions, feelings or needs in this way even when it differs from others elicits respect. Assertive people’s boundaries are respected once they have put them in place, in a likable yet firm way, and they are not expected to over extend themselves. T
- Gaining self-confidence
Assertiveness creates a positive cycle – the more assertiveness you display, the less anxious you become and the more confident you appear. The more confident you appear the more assertive you will become, even less anxious and the more confident you will actually feel. People with confidence are usually more successful than those with less self-confidence. The reasons for this vary but mostly it has been found that if you appear confident in your abilities, you also perform better.
- More energy
Assertive people have more energy as they know that they don’t have to take responsibility for everyone and everything. They are able to say “no” and delegate to others when appropriate to do so. This means that they are able to take on more tasks and excel in them as they have the capacity to do so.
- Effective expression of needs
Having your needs met are as important in the work context as it is in other contexts. Assertive people are able to express their needs in insignificant as well as more important situations such as asking for a raise from their superior; requesting a cup of coffee from a receptionist; suggesting that a meeting is rescheduled to suit them. Effective expression of needs sometimes requires negotiating your needs with other’s needs and finding a compromise. This contributes significantly to job satisfaction and overall happiness.
- Less misunderstandings
Assertiveness requires clear communication which prevents misunderstandings. Clear communication essentially implies giving context for what you are saying, communicating in a logical and systematic manner and speaking slowly and deliberately. This is important to ensure efficient meetings and daily communication with colleagues and superiors.
- Effective conflict resolution
Being assertive does not mean that you don’t have any conflict with others. Conflict is inevitable, however assertive people are able to see conflict as an opportunity to use their skills. Actively listening to someone; communicating empathy for the other person; effectively expressing your own need or opinion, all form part of the skill set of an assertive individual. In short, assertiveness enables these individuals to make both parties feel heard and come up with some sort of a resolution.
- More meaningful relationships
Assertive people who have less misunderstandings; resolve conflict; express their needs; communicate in an empathic and real way and say no, have more meaningful relationships with others. Asserting yourself means putting yourself out there and making yourself be seen. This kind of vulnerability will ensure more meaningful relationships with others.
Assertiveness is a sophisticated and often underrated skill. The good news is that skills can be taught. If you, your colleagues or boss are interested in adding these tools to your toolkit, you are welcome to get in contact with me or read more about my 6 Week Assertiveness Training for beginners here.
Leandri Beyers is a Clinical Psychologist from Johannesburg