There is a risk, however, that some people view assertiveness - or too much of it - to be arrogant or aggressive. This can then make relationships, meetings, and discussions harder. The team at The Hub Events takes a look at how to be assertive at work without being aggressive or arrogant, but first we need to understand what assertive behaviour is.
What Is Assertive Behaviour?
Assertive behaviour is a part of your communication skills, and lets you speak more openly about yourself, your opinions, ideas and goals. Without being assertive, you’ll be more concerned and worried about what others will think of you, which can lead to you not engaging with others in your team or business as much. This will ultimately have an impact on your career.
By focusing on becoming more assertive, you are helping give yourself the skills and tools to move forward in your career while forging strong relationships with others that are built on respect and trust.
What Does Assertive Mean?
Being assertive can be described as having or showing a confident and forceful personality, but this doesn’t take into account how we have to balance this to avoid the negative connotations that can come from being too assertive.
To be assertive, you’ll be confident enough to express yourself freely, taking care of your personal and professional needs and well-being without being aggressive or arrogant. This is shown by remaining respectful and appropriate to everyone at all times. At work, assertive employees are focused on reaching their goals, but are able to say no to things that will limit them.
How Can Assertiveness Help Your Career?
Assertiveness can help you be more confident in any situation. You can set boundaries that you’re not comfortable crossing, ensure the proper standards are adhered to and be frank about what you expect or want from a task or situation. When applied properly, assertiveness can improve relationships, ensuring there is mutual respect between both sides.
Leveraging assertiveness will make you a better negotiator and communicator. You can create detailed plans that everyone can follow and give clear instructions. It also helps you fight for what you think is right, but without making you immune to opposing views or feedback. This shows your open to change and growth when needed.
How To Be Assertive
When thinking about how to be assertive, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure you don’t come across as arrogant or aggressive. Some people mistake or confuse these traits, but they are subtly different.
Avoid becoming defensive or developing a sense of entitlement. You are a part of a team, and the needs of others are important, but not at the expense of your own well-being. This is a common problem of assertiveness that not everyone realises. Be clear but calm at all times, and adopt the following ideas to become more assertive without being aggressive.
Use The Right Language
Your choice of language is important. Start with “I” statements to make sure it’s clear that you are speaking about yourself and not others, and combine this with direct questions and phrases to get to the point faster. This approach will help the interaction run smoothly, with no distractions or misconceptions.
Keep to the facts where possible, and avoid judgements or statements that speak for someone else, or you’ll come across as overbearing or self-important. Neither impression will help.
Improve Your Communication Skills
With assertiveness being a part of your communication skills, improving these in a more general sense will help you be more assertive as a result. This can involve you being clearer with your words and intentions, as well as listening to others and improving your understanding.
While there can be barriers to overcome, this is a great opportunity to improve core skill with benefits that spread across your skillset - and you’ll appreciate the improvements.
Communication also covers written, nonverbal and body language, so there are plenty of areas to improve. This will give you more confidence in dealing with people, which will help you be more assertive.
Be Open To Criticism And Feedback
A part of being assertive is standing your ground and fighting for what you believe is right, but you won’t always be in the right and knowing when to accept other views can help you grow. There will always be other ways of doing things and approaches to projects and problems. If you won’t listen to anyone else, you’re not showing assertiveness but being arrogant and defensive. This won’t help you reach your goals or form better relationships.
Any feedback or criticism, delivered in the right way, should be thought about, considered and acted upon if it will help you grow - no matter what it’s about.
Understand Your Boundaries
It can be hard to say no at times, especially when people are trying to give you work or tasks on top of your own. While it’s good to help others, taking on too much can be detrimental to your own productivity, results and well-being. Saying no is sometimes considered taboo in the workplace, as it makes you seem like you’re not a team player - but knowing when to prioritise your needs is a part of how to be assertive.
Saying no when you’re already at capacity isn’t a bad thing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help think of other options or solutions to help.
Practise How To Be Assertive
Finding the balance between how to be assertive without being aggressive isn’t easy - and you won’t get it right when you start trying. You’ll need to find the balance that works for you, but is also suitable for the people you interact with and the environment you’re being assertive in.
Your manager can help with this, as can the team you work in. Let them know what you’re trying to do and achieve, and they’ll be better placed to help you find the right level of assertiveness.
How To Be Assertive Without Being Aggressive
There are plenty of techniques and methods to be assertive without being aggressive, but this will be something you need to learn over time, by practising with others and seeing how they react. It’s important to remember everyone will respond differently, so your behaviour has to be comfortable for you, too.
There are also courses you can complete that will help you become more assertive in a structured environment, with trainers and other attendees to help you put into practice what you’ve learned. One example is our Assertive Professional course, which covers a lot of core techniques and knowledge to help you find the assertiveness within you.
Find Out More About How To Be Assertive At Work
Being assertive can make a big difference to your career. You can set boundaries, show your expertise, and support other staff and departments as you work towards the same goals. Finding the balance between being assertive without being arrogant or aggressive can be tricky, but there are ways to do it.
Consider a training course for a structured approach, on top of online research and work with management to make sure you are presenting yourself in a strong but professional way. This collaborative approach is proof that you can take a balanced approach.
Find out more about the courses we offer at The Hub Events and find one that will help you be assertive at work. Our team of experts are ready to answer any questions you have, so get in touch with our team today.