On the art of being assertive

How we communicate in any number of work and personal situations is an important aspect of how successful we are in our communication. It won’t come as a surprise to you that some people are introverted, quiet and hesitate to express their opinions in a group setting. Others can be domineering, aggressive and have a tendency to bulldoze over others. So, where does that leave us? What are we striving for in terms of communication style for leadership effectiveness?

I like to think of our communication style as an element of emotional intelligence. And I have a mental model that looks like this: Passive ßAssertive à Aggressive, in other words a scale where Assertive lies between Passive and Aggressive and is the style we are aiming for. I would also add that the perception of ‘assertive’ varies with culture. What is considered assertive in one culture, can be considered aggressive in another. We need to be perceptive of what the prevailing culture is around us in our own situations.

What does it mean to communicate assertively? Communicating assertively means that we are clear, specific and unambiguous while simultaneously being sensitive to the needs and responses of others. It is also about standing up for our own rights, opinions, beliefs – about being able to disagree with other without resorting to personal insults or disrespect of others.

The benefits of communicating assertively are many. Compared with being passive, when we are assertive there is a feeling of standing up for yourself and having influence where you want to. We feel more genuine for having been honest with those around us. When you find your own way of being assertive, the people around you also feel respected, accepted and listened to. For leadership effectiveness and indeed individual happiness, there is very little to be gained by being passive or aggressive.

My challenge to you is this: Observe yourself and notice in which situations you are passive, assertive or aggressive. Make your observations twice daily for a two-week period. Spend a few minutes daily reflecting on what made you act passively or aggressively and what contributed to being assertive?  What are you noticing about your own self-talk and behavior? Are there any changes you would like to make?

My availability the coming two weeks is variable, some slots open most days. Bookings can easily be made on my calendar here: https://www.picktime.com/MindKatalysts

If you don’t find a good slot, please contact me and we will find a good time together.

Have a great rest of the week everyone!