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Developing The Skill Of Assertiveness

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Assertiveness is a soft-skill. It is one of the personal attributes that contribute to success in the workplace. It is an essential component of effective communication, teamwork, conflict resolution and leadership. It is important then to understand what being assertive is all about.

Assertiveness is not just “speaking up”. It not about passing judgment or telling someone that they are wrong. It’s not about winning.

Being assertive means that you express yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view, while also respecting the rights and beliefs of others. It is based upon balance. It is grounded in the self-belief that “I’m OK and your OK”. When this is out of balance, the skill of assertiveness is not present. For example, with too little self-confidence, your behavior tends to be accommodating and avoiding. And with too much self-confidence, your behavior becomes aggressive and domineering.

When emotions are running high on either side, it is a signal that there is an imbalance in the I’m OK and your OK continuum.   Recognize that managing your emotions is essential and will facilitate effective delivery of your message.

It is also important to understand your sphere of influence – where what you say has the power to affect the behavior of the other party. If there is no ability to influence, then it is best to accept or walk away.   Failure to recognize this can lead to unnecessary stress or conflict.

Take into consideration the point that you want to make or the goal that you want to achieve.   Do you just want to express your opinion or your needs? Or, do you have a recommendation, a suggestion, or a potential resolution to a problem or issue?

Are you practicing the skill of assertiveness? Here is a checklist for developing the skill of assertiveness:

  1. What needs to be said in this situation?
  2. What happens if it is not said? (i.e. if I do nothing)
  3. Am I in my sphere of influence? Does what I say influence the behavior of the other?
  4. Do I respect the other person (pass the I’m Ok – Your OK test)?
  5. Can I refrain from making judgments or blaming the other person?
  6. Can I manage my emotions?
  7. Do I have a recommendation or suggestion?

Learning the skill of assertiveness can take focus, time and practice. If you have a pattern of silencing yourself, becoming assertive will take commitment, planning and practice.   If your pattern is speaking out without consideration of the other person or managing your emotions, take a step back, review and plan for a better outcome.


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