What is Assertiveness and 5 steps to strengthen your Assertive Behaviour
By: Jeffrey Herbert Williams
Occupation and designation: Corporate Trainer and Education Success Coach; Managing Director of Excellence Edge International, A training and consultancy company for professional and career development
What is it?
Assertiveness could be interpreted in various contexts but to put it simply, it is a behavioural attitude that seeks to achieve a winning outcome for all involved. When you adopt an assertive behaviour you give acknowledgement and consideration to what the other person wants or needs and at the same time achieve more of what you desire for yourself
Why is it important?
Assertiveness is crucial and necessary because of its adoption and practices in the business environment today. You need to be assertive when you are dealing with your business associates and partners, stakeholders, clients and even your friends whom you communicate frequently. Even more so now when the business environment is evolving because of technological advancements, being assertive is crucial for each individual to communicate confidently and purposefully
When is it beneficial to be assertive?
Behaving more assertively will increase your happiness in life and you will likely have a longer life span than someone who is communicating aggressively or passively. For example, if you have some great ideas to bring up to the management team and you are convinced it will be to the benefit of the organization, the question now is: How could I be more assertive and persuade my bosses to adopt my ideas or viewpoints? One way is to tell them the benefits and the impact it has on the organization. Share with them “Why” it is beneficial and the crucial aspects your ideas have on the organization. Once your ideas get the attention of your bosses, it gives you the satisfaction and encouragement to contribute even more!
To strengthen your assertive behaviour, here are five steps which you could adopt immediately:
Step 1 – Hold Assertive Beliefs
You first need to examine yourself and believe that a winning outcome is possible. You believe that a persistent search for a mutual resolution to a situation will be crucial. Your beliefs stem from:
- My needs are important, so are others
- For others to win, I do not have to lose
- The potential is always there for a winning outcome, how do I find it?
Step 2 – Establish Your Needs and Wants
State your specific needs. People tend to express their wants as opposed to what they really need. For example,
(A general need statement): “I want some help doing this”
(A specific need statement): “I need some help for about 15 minutes into a project I am working on”
Ask yourself these questions to establish your needs and wants:
- What do I want ideally?
- In what way, could I be happy?
- What would I be sufficiently satisfied with?
Step 3 – Establish Other People’s Needs and Wants
Asking open questions will help clarify and understand the needs and wants of others. For example, “What if….?”, “How Can….?”, “Why should…?”, “When was…?” “Who is…?”
Once you establish their needs and wants, it makes it easier for you to communicate assertively as you have already clarified and understood where they are coming from.
Step 4 – Getting Agreement to Both Sets of Needs and Wants
After establishing the real needs, you may find that there are a few or no differences and that it is easy to reach a mutually satisfactory result. You indicate your acknowledgement of their needs and wants and gain acceptance from the other party to agree and acknowledge your needs.
Establishing both sets of needs and wants will help you to understand the perspectives of others while also establishing your own perspectives. It gradually leads you to communicate better and assertively between the two parties involved.
Step 3- Manage Your Emotions
When you manage your emotions, you can immediately become more assertive. Our emotions are a product of how we think about ourselves, others or any other factors in any situation.
When you eliminate any anger, fear, stress, anxiety or any other powerful negative emotion, you become more empowered and are capable of dealing with any problem or difficulty successfully.
If we are influenced by what others say to us and about us, how much more are we influenced by what we say to ourselves? We may not be aware of those negative thoughts sometimes, but we do become aware of unpleasant feelings and end up behaving in an aggressive or non-assertive way. Ultimately, we are responsible for keeping our emotions in control and managing it well.
Step 4- Positive Self-Talk
Convert any negative thinking into positive thoughts. If you have sound and positive thoughts, it makes it easier for you to reach out and communicate with people. People like to hear positive and sincere words as it will influence and win them over. Sound and positive thinking produces a different set of feelings and emotions that enables us to perform at our best. The power of our thoughts can make or break us! Remember that positive self-talk will increase our ability to be more assertive when we are communicating with anyone.
Step 5 – Assertive Listening
Am I prepared to listen enough to what others have to say? If you want to encourage others to listen to you, the law of reciprocity works: If you are keen to listen to what I have to say, I’ll be instructed to listen to you. Practice hard on your listening skills to create a winning outcome for everyone.
As we move on to another challenging year, let us remember to adopt our assertive skills and put them in good use when communicating with our bosses, colleagues, clients and friends.