Home Money & Career How to be More Assertive at Work

How to be More Assertive at Work

by Ryan Chambers
man leading a meeting
A man being assertive at work

If you want to be successful at work, you have to be assertive. People often mistake assertiveness for aggressive behavior, but both are completely different. Being assertive at work means knowing what you want and what your limitations are and being able to express that confidently and respectfully at your workplace.

People are often afraid of being too assertive at work, as they don’t want to come across as pushy and rude. Firstly, being assertive doesn’t mean being pushy. It doesn’t have to be in an aggressive or rude manner. It simply means being strong, honest, and straightforward and being able to speak your mind in a productive and discreet manner.

So if you want to show others that you mean business at work without causing upset, below are some tips to assist you in being more assertive at work.

Change Your Mindset 

Always remember that you have a right to be heard and that your opinions and needs should be considered when decisions are being put in place. If you’re often afraid of speaking up, ask yourself, “what’s the worst thing that can possibly happen if I make my feelings heard in a respectful manner?” More often than not, you’ll realize that there’s nothing to worry about.

Display Confidence 

You must show confidence in yourself and your ideas when communicating. It’s much easier for someone to take advantage of you if you seem tame and submissive rather than calm and self-confident. Don’t be intimidated by those in authority. Maintain a self-assured image; face your co-workers when speaking; maintain eye contact (especially when you’re listening); keep your shoulders squared with your chin up; and avoid fidgeting or covering your mouth when you speak.

Show Leadership Qualities 

grumpy man
Man looking assertive at work.

Showing leadership skills is an important part of speaking in an assertive manner. To be assertive in a conversation, you need to lead that conversation. The importance of good leadership characteristics in your personality cannot be undermined if you really wish to go far in your career. You can check out the Management Skills & Leadership Development Course by William L. Evans which is a full leadership guide from zero to a perfect leader personality.

Speak Slowly and Clearly 

Speak slowly, audibly, and clearly, and stay on topic. Talking fast is an admission that you don’t expect people to take the time to listen. Speaking slowly, on the other hand, will show people that you’re worth the wait. Use a clear, calm voice. Don’t be loud, just enough to make yourself heard. If people aren’t listening to you, say “excuse me” clearly and firmly, but never be apologetic.

Apologizing can have a negative effect on your career. When you apologize, people will think you are weak and not in control of the situation. They may also feel sorry for you, making them less likely to listen to or work with you again. Apologizing makes people think they should avoid working with someone who apologizes so often, as it shows that they don’t have confidence in their abilities or etiquette (which is true).

If someone makes a mistake at work—for example: forgetting something important, being late, or losing data—you shouldn’t apologize for this! It’s perfectly normal to make mistakes sometimes; if anything, apologizing would make things worse by letting other people know how powerless one feels when faced with adversity at work.

Use “I” Phrases 

Be willing to express your opinions and feelings by saying something like, “I need the report completed and on my desk by the close of the day today” or “I need more time to consider these options, so may we meet again tomorrow at 9 a.m. to review?”

Say What’s On Your Mind 

If you have an idea or something on your mind, share your feelings freely. Remember that there’s nothing wrong with having an opinion.

Know The Facts 

Ensure that you know all the facts in advance. Do some research and have your evidence ready at hand. You’ll then be able to make a strong case and also improve your reputation as someone who is organized and firm.

Say Exactly What You Mean

Nobody likes to listen to someone drone on. Remember that the more you say, the less is heard. Keep to the topic in question, use facts, and be conversational – not confrontational.

Anticipate People’s Mood and Get Ready Your Own Responses

Try to role-play in your mind how things are likely to unfold. Prepare your responses to different scenarios that you think could happen. Being well-prepared will increase your self-confidence and assist you in being assertive about what’s important to you.

ready to listen man
A young man with an assertive disposition.

Use Good Opening Questions

The use of good questions will expose flaws in other people’s arguments. For example:

  • What’s your evidence?
  • How did you go about searching for alternative solutions?
  • Who have you consulted about this?
  • How have you measured (say whatever the problem is here)?

Don’t let yourself be fobbed off, and make sure that they actually answer your questions. If your question is ignored or avoided, return to it or re-phrase it.

Address Issues Directly

If you have a problem with someone or something, don’t just leave it to escalate. Instead, face it head-on by speaking with the people directly involved.

By dealing with conflict immediately and directly rather than waiting until you are angry or upset, another person will be less likely to retaliate against you—and even if they do, at least they won’t know how much stronger your resolve is than theirs! It also allows them time (and space) so that they can choose whether or not they want to respond appropriately.

Don’t Make Demands 

Just because you’re being assertive at work doesn’t mean that you’ll always get your own way. Some requests you’ll get, some you won’t. Being a professional is all about compromise, and you must be willing to negotiate.

Control Your Emotions

Being aggressive or letting your frustration get the better of you in a professional environment is a sign of weakness. Being assertive at work means clearly and calmly communicating what you want whilst being in control. And the whole point of being assertive is to get what you want. By being aggressive, you’ll piss people off, you’ll lose control, and you won’t get what you want. If you’re feeling stressed, go somewhere private for a few minutes, take deep breaths, and re-focus yourself. Do not allow your emotions to get the better version of you.

Remember Your Value

It’s easier to be assertive at your workplace and display confidence when you remember that you’re a valuable member of that firm. Always participate in meetings and let your voice be heard. Remember that you have something valuable to say, just as others do.

Learn To Say No

You’ll sometimes need to say “No” to your co-worker’s or boss’s requests. However, if you have other priorities preventing you from taking on an extra project, assert your needs and provide a good reason for it. Then, offer an alternative way to help that is more realistic for you.

Your assertive behavior is a direct reflection of your character. If you don’t have the guts to stand up for what is right and say, “I’m not going to do this,” then it’s not likely that you’re going to be an assertive person in general.

happy at work
Man with his teammates smiles confidently.

Here are a Few Pointers

  • Be specific about what you are saying no to. It’s important that you are able to express your reasoning clearly and concisely, so the person on the other end knows why they will not be getting what they want or need. Make sure that your reasons for declining an offer or request make sense within the context of your job description. If there is some ambiguity around why something cannot be done, then it isn’t worth doing at all—so say no! You don’t have time for someone else’s errands (or projects).
  • Be polite but firm when saying no: “I’m sorry but I can’t do that.” Instead of saying “Can’t” or “Not possible,” say something like: “I’m sorry but I won’t be able to help with this project because…”

Don’t Feel Guilty For Being Assertive At Work

It’s always okay to stand up for yourself, your ideas, and your opinions. Being assertive at work is very important when communicating with others. Keep practicing, assessing situations, and using your newfound confidence to emphasize rather than provoke. That way, you’ll gain the respect you deserve in the workplace.

You can be assertive and considerate of others at the same time. It’s not about being aggressive or rude; it’s about being direct but not rude. It would be best if you said what you want in a way that makes it clear that you’re also considering their needs.

Another way to be more assertive at work is by avoiding apologizing when a coworker or boss says no or disagrees with your idea, even if they could have done something better in your eyes. This shows people that you respect their opinions and abilities, which will help them feel more comfortable working with you on projects in the future.

In Summary

It’s easy to feel like a failure when you don’t get what you want, especially in your relationship with others at work. But do not get frustrated; you can be assertive and considerate of others simultaneously. And that means you won’t have to sacrifice your kindness or let your colleagues down. After all, it’s always possible that they need help more than they think! So go forth and practice these tips—and encourage them in return.

For more in-depth knowledge on being confident at work and boosting your career, see How to be Confident and Assertive at Work by Conrad Potts.

How to be Confident and Assertive at Work: Practical tools and techniques that you can put into use immediately
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Potts, Conrad (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 241 Pages - 01/08/2015 (Publication Date) - Robinson (Publisher)

Related Articles

Leave a Comment