So how can we be more assertive and why is it such a good thing for us in business and personal life for the longer term?
Assertiveness allows open and honest communication so that we can act in a constructive way towards each other based on the premise that everyone has rights. These rights have responsibilities attached to them. You are responsible for yourself as a person and no one should take this away from you. On the other hand this also means the same for others. Other people are responsible for themselves and you should not be manipulated into shouldering their responsibility nor take their rights away from them.
Assertiveness enables you to make sure your rights are respected and to speak up even though there maybe fears or worry getting in the way from doing these things. If you don’t you are not being true to yourself and you can end up doing things you don’t want to do and feeling pretty cheesed off long term!
How do we do this?
There are several ways to be more assertive. It is important to check your intent that you are being respectful to the other person. The next part is to work out how you wish to express what you want to say. It helps to start off with outlining what is going on so the other person is clear without making it personal. Then say what you would like to happen or how you feel in the situation. You can also follow up with what would be good about that - positive outcomes.
I had a think about some of the examples from participants from my previous workshops when being assertive had proved tricky such as: saying no to a teenager for a lift when you are trying to get your tax return done; being able to say what you want to happen in a team meeting and being able to explain to a friend how their time keeping is putting you out. Other examples provided by people included: saying no to a client who wants your help but you know you can't take them on; putting forward a reason for promotion to your line manager at work, telling a family member what you think about specific behaviour or saying no to manning that stall at the school fair.
If, for example, you wish to firmly but graciously refuse to take on a client as your books are full, and you are already over committed, without offending them you could say 'it is great to be asked but the situation is that I am currently not taking on any more clients'. If it is saying no to the cake stall then you could say a similar thing 'thanks for asking me but I am not in a position to help out right now'. It maybe a more complicated situation where you have to set the scene so the other party understands what is going on. It is at this point that you then you express how you feel and say what you would like to happen. In a situation with a friend who is often late and it is impacting on your business you could start off by explaining what is going on for you right now, such as, 'I have less time than I used to and if you are late it impacts on my ability to see my next client'. Then the next step is to say what you feel or want to happen. 'What would be good is if we say a time and then we both stick to that time otherwise it causes difficulties for me.' To follow up you could then say why this would be benefit your relationship or be good for you both. 'This would mean I would not have to rush off and feel stressed and you would get to spend more time with me'.
We can also use a technique called the broken record where you politely repeat what you are saying, maybe changing the wording a little but with the same message. ‘Thank you for the offer, but I am not currently in a position to run the stall right now’. 'If we both stick to a set time for meeting then I would not have to feel stressed and rush off and you would spend more time with me'. Knowing what you want from the situation helps you to keep your focus so you can repeat the message and keep to your goals. You may start to feel guilty. However no one can make you feel guilt unless you let them and you, just like everyone else, are responsible for expressing what you want and feel in a given situation.
In my assertiveness: getting the balance right workshop I offer a simple 3 step approach to managing those tricky situations, cover barriers that can get in the way and provide practical solutions to inspire confidence in your position.
'a good pace, thought provoking and I enjoyed the exercise - it gave me an excellent structure, I really enjoyed it'. Steve, Bristol.
'Very comfortable setting, made to feel very welcome and able to contribute at any point. The workshop has made me feel a lot more confident in my right to be assertive. You were a very informative and relatable presenter' Annabel, Options for Living, Bath.
Workshops are available to book on my website or eventbrite they are 2.5 hours long at an affordable rate. If you wish to have a chat about a corporate rate for your business or to find out more please phone on 07811 740580 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look forward to seeing you!