Standing up for one's own beliefs should ideally come naturally to everyone. No one, under any circumstance, should feel inhibited to say what's on their mind.
In fact, this is what a healthy and democratic society thrives on, isn't it? There is a fine line that separates assertiveness from aggression, and work colleagues often choose to judge it, based upon the rapport they share with the person in question.
So, assertiveness from someone we dislike is interpreted as dominance, or even rudeness. On the other hand, the same display of assertiveness from our gossip buddy is taken in the right vein.
It is, therefore, necessary to be extremely vigilant while being assertive. Lest your will to stand up for yourself be misunderstood, here are a few things to remember:
- Be completely sure of the cause you're going to stand up for.
- Ensure that you are single-willed, and do not waver.
- Do not step on other people's toes while you stand up for yourself.
- Be prepared to have your cause shot down without consideration.
- Be ready to have some foes.
As mentioned earlier, there are some who are blessed with the confidence to be vocal about their opinions. The rest keep searching the Internet for ways to make themselves heard at least once in a while. Well, help is at hand.
A Crash Course on Being Assertive in the Workplace
Confidence that combines with an acute sense of right and wrong is a lethal combination. So, take the effort to understand the intricacies of the way your company functions, in order to support the right cause. Remember, shallow assertiveness can be seen as an attempt to arm-twist or dominate, and can spell disaster for your career.
Take yourself seriously before you expect others in office to do so. Pay attention to your appearance and mannerisms so that you exude confidence.
Tip: Learn to Say 'No'
It's hard to imagine how a simple word like 'no' does not exist in some people's vocabulary. Well, it's time to put your priorities in place, and stop worrying whether your colleagues have begun hating you.
Doing occasional favors for your co-workers is one thing; making it your job description is another. At the end of it all, you would have little to show for yourself other than clearing your colleague's workload. Saying 'no' is not anti-politeness, it is pro-honesty. Be kind to yourself; you know you owe it to your inner hardworking soul.
Tip: Master Your Emotions
Don't think of this exercise as an outlet for your pent-up frustration. To be able to effortlessly communicate your thoughts, you need to be in charge of your emotions. Don't let your anger cloud your ability to put forth your opinion.
Some of us feel that it is necessary to be all charged up to be heard. However, it is just a matter of saying the right things, to the right people, at the right time. Which is why, it makes perfect sense to be assertive every now and then, rather than storing up your grievances and lashing out when you can't take it anymore.
Tip: Assert, Not Intimidate
Finally, for those who are still in doubt about how to discern aggression from assertiveness, here's a pictorial tuition.
- Assertion involves being calm and collected as you put your views across.
- Aggression is when you threaten, raise your voice, or bully.
Now that we have that out of the way, remember that you are not trying to hurt someone's feelings by being assertive. You are simply speaking your mind about things that matter to you, and are in the best interests of the organization.
So, there is no need to fear a confrontation, as long as you are acting for the betterment of your workplace. There are, however, exceptions regarding this.
Tip: Nail the Moment
Yes, there are times when keeping your nose to the grindstone will reap you benefits. Keeping a low profile and working diligently has worked surprisingly well for some people, though it's hard to believe that in a world where you're expected to tom-tom every little achievement.
Sincerity, in some cases, does not go unnoticed. So, if you have been running a few favors as your colleagues keep notching their water cooler moments all day long, give yourself a pat on the back. If your boss is the type who sees through frivolity, appreciation is sure to come your way.
Tip: Gauge Yourself
Pulling off assertion requires a certain amount of finesse, and if you think you don't have it, well, you don't have it.
Note that it is very easy for people to misunderstand assertiveness for aggression, and your colleagues may not take it too kindly. This happens especially when assertion is misused to make a show of authority.
Assertion, when used often, may also alienate you from your colleagues, who would get the impression that you are constantly out to get them. Therefore, be completely sure of the cause you decide to take up and its consequences too.
Tip: Avoid the Kick
Unless you're self-employed, there is always the chance of assertiveness getting you fired. There are modern-day bosses who harbor a strong dislike for employees who voice their opinions.
If you happen to work for one, and if your job is precious to you, you've got to zip up and keep working. This goes on, until you find alternate means of employment, and your patience gets rewarded by a stellar recommendation letter.
It may sound cowardly, of course, but when your survival is at stake, you've got to choose the practical option, rather than the brave one.
Being assertive in the workplace is more about the cause you take up, and the manner in which you execute it. Motivational speakers may advocate its importance in building your work profile, but you need to make sure that it does not cost you your job.