10 ways to be more assertive at work

We are delighted to welcome another guest contributor to the Anne Corder Recruitment blog – Melanie Coeshott: a career coach at Blue Diamond, a consultancy empowering mid-career professionals to take control of their work and life. Melanie helps her clients either rediscover passion in their work or to find their next challenge, sometimes by doing something completely different.

Keep reading to get some tips from Melanie on achieving assertiveness at work, and if you would like to learn more from Melanie make sure you take a look at our Events pages where you’ll find information about our Lunch & Learn sessions, which aims to dive deeper into the subject.


How is it that some people seem to get exactly what they want, whereas others just don’t?

The answer is simple – assertiveness.

Assertiveness is a subtle art, which some people seem to master naturally. The rest of us muddle our way through, acting in unassertive ways for much of the time. Sometimes things go our way, but that is somewhat due to chance.

The great news is that assertiveness skills and can be learned and enhanced.

What is assertiveness?

Assertiveness is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive.

It means standing up for our personal rights: expressing our thoughts, feelings and beliefs in direct, honest & appropriate ways.

Assertiveness also strives to respect the thoughts, feelings & beliefs of other people.

However, it’s often misunderstood and confused with other communication responses i.e. aggression, passiveness and passive aggression.

Assertiveness versus other interactive styles

Aggression
Aggression is typically directed towards someone else. Their rights and self-esteem are undermined in the process.

Passiveness
This is responding in a passive or non-assertive way, for example simply complying with the wishes of others. It can undermine individual rights & self-confidence.

Passive–aggression
This is characterised by a pattern of indirect resistance to the demands or requests of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation.

Assertiveness
Standing up for our personal rights – expressing thoughts, feelings & beliefs in direct, honest & appropriate ways. It also strives to respect the thoughts, feelings & beliefs of other people.

Importance of assertiveness

There are many reasons why being assertive can be beneficial.

Assertiveness can improve our own self-awareness, helping to understand our strengths and weaknesses, but also what we are looking to achieve from a given situation. It helps to ensure our needs are understood and improves the chance of having them met. It can improve our understanding of other people, enabling better communication and often also improving relationships as a result.

Further benefits include increasing our self-confidence and reducing stress.

When acting assertively, we feel confident, empowered, energised, self-assured, in control, respected and heard.

So, do you believe you could benefit from being more assertive?

10 Ways to be more assertive

Many of us could do with boosting our assertiveness in different situations. Why not try these ideas:

1. Take responsibility for your communication responses
2. Identify and model others who act assertively
3. Build your personal self-awareness
4. Know what you want and set clear outcomes
5. Look at the situation to understand different perspectives
6. Set your environment to give you the best chance of success
7. Be clear and concise
8. Rehearse conversations
9. Stay calm
10. Remain respectful

Wrap-up

Assertiveness is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive.

It ensures our needs are understood and improves the chance of having them met. It can improve our understanding of others, enable better communication and can improve relationships as a result.

The great news is that assertiveness is a muscle that can be strengthened. What steps will you take to enhance yours?

About the Author

Melanie Coeshott

Melanie Coeshott

Blue Diamond Coach

Melanie Coeshott is a guest blogger for the ACR blog and brings her experience as a career coach at Blue Diamond: a consultancy empowering mid-career professionals to take control of their work and life. Melanie helps her clients either rediscover passion in their work or to find their next challenge, sometimes by doing something completely different.