Are you afraid of not being liked if you’re assertive?
Have you ever been passed up for a promotion?
Do you feel like no one sees or values your work?
Are you hesitant to speak up in meetings?
Do you second guess yourself?
Do you struggle to see your true worth, your strengths, and your unique value?
Do you sometimes feel strong armed by others at the office and don’t know how to handle it?
I’ve been there and experienced all of that. If you can relate to any of this I’d like to share some very effective ways to be assertive and respected.
I consider myself an introvert and I was painfully shy as a child and even into my adult years. When I chose a career in a very fast paced, male dominated field I had to learn how to have a voice and make a significant contribution quickly. This did not come easy but what I share below helped me to not only move into technology leadership at some of the top telecommunications companies but also helped me to grow my business…
1. Be respectful
Look for the win-win situation and always elicit feedback. ‘I would like to run something by you and get your thoughts on this?’ Ask permission. Use ‘I’ statements and avoid using ‘you’ in a way that could come across as pointing the finger or as disrespectful. For example ‘I appreciated your thoughts during the meeting and I was wondering if we can collaborate on this idea?’ vs ‘You were incorrect when you said this and here’s how I think we should fix this.’
Keeping your word and always staying in integrity is another important aspect of being respected. It’s much easier to be assertive when others know they can always count on you and you have their best interest at heart.
Emotional intelligence is another piece to this puzzle. In order to be respectful you must aware of how you’re received by others. Timing is also really important. If you’ve made the same point in the same forum previously and it wasn’t well received it may be best to look at changing your approach to get the desired result.
It helps to have facts and figures to back up your point or request. As an example, when you’re entering into a salary negotiation make sure you have done your homework on the industry standard salary for that position based on all the information you have about the job, taking your experience, qualifications, etc, into consideration. It also helps to play out difference scenarios so you feel more confident going in. For example, have alternatives when it comes to compensation. If they can’t match your salary requirements, can they make up for it by providing the additional benefits you request?
When you’re as prepared as you can be for any situation you tend to more confident and you’re more likely to be assertive. If you’d like to be considered for a promotion, for example, you can do your research on what the position involves and demonstrate your ability to excel in that role by providing examples of your work achievements, any kudos you received from others, ideas on how to do a great job in the new role, etc.
What I mean by this is the lens through which you view the world or the meaning you give every situation. For example, if you get passed up for the promotion do you tell yourself you’re not good enough or do you ask yourself what you could do next time to get that promotion? Another example is if someone is not giving you the opportunity to share your thoughts in a meeting do you think the person is deliberately ignoring you or do you think they’re just really passionate and opinionated on the subject and they’re taking the opportunity to share? The more you can reframe these situations and realize not every interaction is a personal attack on you, the easier it will be for you to continue to be assertive and not give up.
It will also help you keep emotions in check and prevent you from becoming really angry and frustrated and saying something you might regret. You can always ask yourself ‘what can I do to become more assertive while being respectful in this situation or in the next meeting?’ Here are some options: You can speak with that person privately after the meeting or you can speak to the organizer or moderator of the meeting to make sure everyone has an opportunity to provide input next time.
4. Don’t apologize for your thoughts or opinions
You definitely want to be respectful while standing in your power. You have every right to express your opinion and share your ideas. You’re in that role for a reason. Even if you feel like what you share is not well received there is an opportunity for you to understand where others are coming from so you can learn and grow. As long as you’re open to input from others, people will generally admire you for being respectful and assertive, even if they disagree with your view. You also never know who you may be inspiring to have a voice. The other key to this is not being afraid to admit when you’re wrong. This builds trust and respect and will also help you to be more assertive when you realize even if you mess up you can admit it and move on. Can you think of a leader you highly respect for being assertive, respectful of others and not afraid to make mistakes? I bet this is someone who you and others admire.
5. Put yourself out there
Take risks. Take action in spite of your fear. Confidence is like a muscle. The more you take action on what is important to you, even though it may be scary and take you out of your comfort zone, the more confident you become. It’s much easier to be assertive when you have a high level of confidence in yourself and your abilities. Embrace ‘mistakes’ as opportunities to grow and develop stronger professional relationships.
People who are assertive and admired often have a genuine ‘us’ vs. ‘me’ mentality. In other words they’re more focused on serving and supporting their team and the company in the best way they can instead of focusing on personal gain. Keep this in mind the next time you have an opportunity to be assertive. Ask yourself ‘how can my assertiveness benefit the team and others?’ When you have this mindset you will inevitably be rewarded by being trusted and respected even if not everyone agrees with you. If not, that may not be the right environment for you.
What is the one area you’re committed to be more assertive in and what can you do to step into your confidence and own your value and your unique perspective?