If you need help getting something done, you have a few options: you can request it, you can demand it, or you can simply sit back and hope that it happens. The first behavior is an example of assertion, or standing up for your own rights without violating the rights of others. The second is aggression; you are standing up for your rights, but violating another's right to voluntary action. The third choice is submission; a failure to stand up for your own rights. Certainly you recognize all of these behaviors, in your colleagues if not in yourself. And, you probably recognize assertive behavior as the most effective route. Although they may accomplish the intended ends, the alternatives imperil our own rights or those of others, creating conflict and building mistrust within relationships. One of the keys to effectiveness is learning how to communicate thoughts and feelings without jeopardizing yourself or others, an ability which elevates both morale and productivity in the workplace. Being assertive, however, is not always easy.
Like any other expression of emotion, being assertive involves risk-taking, since feelings handled inappropriately in the workplace are a well-known source of anger or conflict. However, letting a fear of conflict inhibit expression only increases stress and anxiety. Until one is comfortable with, and proficient in, expressing themselves and their feelings in a productive manner, it is difficult to learn which battles to fight. In a conscious effort to avoid confrontation, they may end up giving ground on issues of paramount importance or taking an aggressive stand on a trivial issue. The first step on the road to assertive action is to overcome your fear of risk-taking by examining your situation as objectively as possible. Remember the following:
Self-Presentation in Assertiveness: By taking things personally, people assume the role of target in situations that are not in fact directed against them. It is safer to assume that almost all problems are professional and to respond to them that way. The minute you start taking things personally, you diminish your ability to be rational and therefore assertive. Be sure the risk of assertiveness is worth taking by determining whether or not you have something to gain. Failing to be assertive in such a situation can set a precedent for others to use or abuse you.
Learning to be assertive takes time, courage, and the ability to recognize a situation for what is really is. There are several steps which may help you to avoid engaging in superfluous battles and to deal with situations confidently and assertively:
Following these simple suggestions will help you present yourself as someone optimistic, rather than someone who is hostile and angry.
Points to Consider Assertiveness: cannot always get you everything you want or force others to change. It is, however, far more effective than being either submissive or aggressive. Assertiveness interacts with other communication and relationship skills. You need not always be assertive, but it is necessary to know how to be assertive when you wish to be. Build your changes in behavior gradually by choosing small problems prior to tackling more central areas of your life. Allow others time to acclimate themselves to hearing from you in your new voice. Once you have begun to function more assertively in your interactions, you are in a position to encourage that behavior in others.
This article can be purchased at ReadySetPresent for $15.00 and is reproducible for a $1.00 royalty fee per copy. Once purchased, download instructions will be sent to you via email. (PC and MAC Compatible). You can purchase all additional royalty copies by clicking here or visiting the reprints page.
Copyright, A.E Schwartz & Associates. All rights reserved.
For additional presentation materials and resources: http://www.readysetpresent.com.