The importance of being assertive by Emma Brereton, account manager at The Write Angle
When I was offered a place on an assertiveness course with MLP Training I thought the room would be full of the meek and mild.
How wrong I was. Developing assertiveness skills is not just for those who have trouble standing up for themselves, it's also important for people who come across as aggressive – both of which can be extremely detrimental in the workplace.
Assertiveness is about looking at ways of dealing with certain situations and different people whilst remaining firm but fair.
During the day's course we analysed what aggressive, passive and assertive behaviours look like. For example,
- Getting your own way no matter what and winning at all costs
- Getting your point across at another person's expense
- Making people do things they don't want to do
- Being loud threatening and violent
- Keeping quiet and avoiding conflict for fear of upsetting people
- Always saying yes
- Not expressing your true feelings
- Apologising excessively
- Listening and showing an understanding to other people's point of view
- Being able to reach workable compromise solutions
- Dealing with conflict
- Being able to recognise your mistakes and recognise your limitations
Analysing these behaviours really helped the group to understand what it is they need to do to change the way we are in the workplace. To achieve the optimum level of assertiveness, we were told, there are a number of things you need to think about; as maintaining good posture, making good eye contact, having a balanced tone of voice and controlling gestures that we do subconsciously like twiddling hair or clasping hands. These subconscious actions are often very revealing and are things that need to be controlled.
Developing good assertiveness skills leads into the ability of being able to say no, dealing with criticism and confrontation. Essentially it's about keeping a level head, being confident in what you're saying and calmly standing your ground.
I learnt a lot about myself on the day and I think I definitely have a good foundation for becoming an assertive person in the workplace. There are 10 rules I now try to abide by to make sure I'm keeping on top of what we learnt.
1. Respect myself and the choices I make
2. Take responsibility for my actions
3. Recognise my own needs and wants independently of others
4. Make clear statements about how I feel and what I want to do
5. Enjoy your successes
6. Ask for time to think things over if needed
7. Set clear boundaries
8. Don't worry about the mistakes I make
9. Be clear in asking for what I want
10. Respect others and their right to be assertive.
How to be a High Achiever In Three Easy Steps
Let's start with a question: how often do you get to the end of the day and wonder where the time went or wish you could find a few extra hours from somewhere?
Sometimes? Often? Everyday?
The desire to recoup the ‘missing' hours that have somehow melted away in the frenetic activity of a busy day is not an uncommon sentiment. The reality is that everyone gets the same allocation of hours each day, however if you feel like you never have enough as you scramble to achieve as much as possible, it's because you're not managing your time effectively.
Effective time management is one of the aspects of professional behaviour that sets apart high achievers and makes them more productive in the workplace. And to manage your time, the first thing you have to do is set goals and stick to them.
High achievers focus their time on high priority areas, which means they step away from the firefighting, distracting activities and the urge to respond immediately to every request they receive in order to remain focused on a task and use their time wisely to complete it.
Step One: As any management coach will tell you, 80 per cent of your results are generated from 20 per cent of your activities, so your first step towards becoming a high achiever is to identify which activities drive your 80 per cent.
Step Two: Once you have identified those priority activities, the next step is to set goals to help you remain focused on high value tasks: goal setting is the master skill of time management and time management is the master skill of all high achievers.
Step 3: With clearly defined goals in place, you then need to develop a critical path to goal delivery which will help you align the available time to the tasks you need to complete, ensuring you remain focused and don't fall into the distraction trap.
The average household spends 1,460 hours a year in front of the TV box – four hours a day. And sometimes we watch it without even realising. A TV Licensing Authority survey found people underestimate their TV viewing by up to 20 hours a week.
Now I am not against TV but I know in my heart there are people saying ‘I'd like to play the piano but I don't have the time'. They have the time they just choose to spend that time watching TV.
Here is a great question for you to ask yourself. "Is what I am doing or about to do taking me towards or away from my goal?"
High achievers have clearly defined goals and they know what they need to do to achieve those goals and they have a plan.
High achievers know you can't make or control time. You can't have a short hour for the bad things and long hours for the good things.
As much as you might like to, you can't control time, but you can control how you spend the time available to you. It's up to you to manage your environment, your systems, your work habits and how you deal with interruptions, maximising the value of your time by ensuring you don't fritter it away.