How to be assertive at work?

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Assertiveness is one of the skills that one acquires with age and experience, especially at work. How do you learn to say no in the workplace?

Why is it important to be assertive at work? 

On the surface, it may seem that saying no to superiors or colleagues may work against us, but studies conducted do not prove this. It turns out that assertiveness is one of the skills that is desired by employers. What is the reason for this tendency? The principle is simple. 

Assertiveness is often associated with emotional intelligence, a social skill that helps build interpersonal relationships. Thus, this trait allows you to build healthy interpersonal relationships with co-workers, makes it easier to set boundaries and helps you gain mutual trust. Interestingly, the ability to say no makes it possible for an employee to be one of the factors contributing to the development of a company or project. Defending one’s own opinion, courage, creativity are precisely the qualities that characterize good leaders. Such employees are often desired by employers in various fields. Therefore, it is worth working on this trait and building self-confidence, inherent in assertiveness. 

Helpful assertiveness techniques 

Theory is one thing, practice is a completely different matter. The advantages of assertiveness are many, but in order for it to work properly, it must be used in a skillful and proven way. Assertiveness techniques are several, and for everyone another of its forms will be more effective. Among the most popular are refusing with specific arguments, which will allow you to not only express your opinion, but also show the thought process or factors behind the decision.

In conversation, it is also a good idea to assert your independence, maintain eye contact and control your non-verbal communication. A cool head, not reacting to personal jabs, threats or rude words is also basic. It is also worthwhile to be prepared to negotiate, the key to success may be to work out a compromise that satisfies both sides. The last technique is based on giving conditional consent or agreeing to a request, but with a specific condition that must be met. 

How to work on assertiveness? 

The first step to increasing your assertiveness is to notice the problem. At work, this aspect is very common: constant overtime, excessive duties going beyond the signed contract or exploitation by co-workers. If certain boundaries are notoriously crossed, you should start marking them with greater visibility. Improving one’s assertiveness level should be based on systematically performing simple exercises. These include learning basic techniques of refusal, working on expressing your own opinion, giving constructive criticism and accepting negative feedback. All of these elements make up effective refusal not only in a work setting, but also outside of it. Assertiveness comes with time, but sometimes it’s worth working on this skill ourselves before someone in the workplace starts taking advantage of our politeness. 

main photo: unsplash.com/CoWomen

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