Show some assertiveness and you could see yourself winning more respect, being more involved in decision-making and perhaps even being promoted. But being assertive is not the same as being aggressive. It's not just about getting your own way. It's about respecting the needs of others as much as your own. Here are some considerations to help you on your way to being more assertive:
1. Ask yourself what you want
Before interacting with someone, decide what you want to happen or to change. Ask yourself what you are trying to achieve, whether it would solve the problem and whether it is realistic.
2. Be flexible
Consider the different approaches you could take and how they could be interpreted. Say, for example, you are after a pay rise. If you say "Isn't it about time you gave me a pay rise?" you are likely to receive a negative response compared with "We've done really well this year with all the extra business I brought in. Do you think we could discuss my performance?" Think about how you can obtain a favourable outcome, such as whether the person is in a good mood and when and where would be the best time and place to talk to him.
3. Remember that other people have rights
You may not like someone else's point of view, but they are entitled to have one and this must be respected. You need to recognise that you both have needs and they may conflict. Therefore, you need to work out how you both can get the results you desire.
4. Establish rapport
People like people who are like themselves. People like to feel that they are being acknowledged. Therefore, rapport can be created through mirroring the language and mannerisms of others. This can be done through using similar words or repeating their words. How you say the words can also have an impact - you can match their tone, volume and speed. You can achieve stronger rapport with people if you mirror them even when you are disagreeing with them.
5. Consider body language
What you are doing while you say things can have a huge impact on the other person. Think about your body language.
6. Explain yourself clearly
To get what you want you need to be clear. Describe the problem or situation to the other person, express the effect it is having on you and then specify what you want to happen.
6. Play the "I" game or the "empathy" game
If you tend to be passive, try using "I" more often in sentences. For example, "I agree", "I think…" and "I feel…" rather than "You make me feel…". This will help the other person register and acknowledge your needs and opinions more effectively.
If, on the other hand you tend to be aggressive, try turning a sentence around to highlight "you" instead of "I". Try: "It must be terrible for you" or "You must be so annoyed". This will demonstrate to the other person that you recognise or acknowledge their needs and opinions.
7. Don't put things off
If you need to act, then act straight away, otherwise the other person might forget or think that the matter is insignificant. Just because it is important to you, doesn't mean that it is important to them.
8. Stick to the plan
Once you are on your way to success, don't change the game plan. You might end up looking foolish, unprofessional and indecisive. In order to get what you want, stay focused on your outcome.
Controlling your emotions and getting a clear message across is essential for being assertive. This only comes with practice.
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