Do you ever worry that you’re not being taken seriously at work? If you doubt yourself, then this can come across in the way you speak and present yourself. The key to being heard and taken seriously is assertiveness.
What is assertiveness?
Assertiveness is the ability to express yourself confidently, with respect and consideration for others in the conversation. Assertiveness takes confidence, tact, and thoughtfulness.
In an attempt to avoid being passive, people often mistake assertiveness with aggression, but this is not what being assertive is about. Being the loudest person in the room does not make you the most assertive. Assertive individuals know how to get the point across without being intimidating or dismissive.
How to be more assertive
At a very young age I found myself as one of the only women on a board for one of the world’s largest logistics mergers. This was pretty intimidating and it would have been so easy to convince myself that I wasn’t qualified to be there. But I was qualified, and I needed to show that.
I had to learn quickly how to maintain my assertiveness in this situation. I developed the following ideas in response and they have helped me countless times since.
The best way to speak with authority on a topic is to make yourself an authority. Learning and preparing as much as you can will help you speak and act with assertiveness.
Admittedly, this isn’t a quick-fix. It takes work. This may involve preparing for a big meeting with notes for every possibly contingency, or generally learning as much as you can about your industry. Identify the gaps in your knowledge, the areas where you feel uncomfortable or less confident, and build upon those areas.
Don’t rush in
If someone asks you a question or comes to you for your opinion, it can be easy to panic and rush in with an answer, any answer. It is better to take a deep breath and really consider what you’re going to say before you say it.
Taking your time and being thoughtful with your responses won’t make you appear unsure or timid. Just the opposite really; it conveys confidence and poise. If you don’t have an answer at the moment, be honest and explain how you plan to find an answer. Honesty and authenticity will garner you a lot more respect than ultra-quick answers.
Being assertive is not just about what you say and how you say it. In order to respect others in the conversation, it is important to listen to them and understand their opinions. Incorporating other’s information and points of view into your responses makes a great impression on your peers. Assertive individuals will listen without interrupting others or responding in a rude manner, even if you disagree with them.
Being assertive involves being confident, thoughtful, tactful, and prepared. Boost your assertiveness by doing your research, taking your time with your responses to others, and by being an active listener.
Could you be more assertive at work? I provide coaching tailored specifically toward assertiveness and confidence in the workplace. Get in touch if you are interested.