In a competitive workplace where multi-tasking, peer pressure and dynamic role plays are often punctuated by conflict, anger and hurt egos, it is important to learn the right assertive techniques to advance in your career.
There is a cliché: “If you don’t stand up for something, you will fall for anything-” and it rings true even more after the global financial crisis, when the fear of losing jobs or being unfairly victimized has pervaded the employee psyche.
Research shows that increasing number of talented employees are falling prey to professional bullying, feeling drained out and are finally quitting their much-need jobs. That is because they lack self-assurance and are unable to assert themselves when they need to.
You are assertive when you have the confidence and the ability to stand up for your own rights without violating others; when you beg to differ with someone you respect while putting forward your own opinion; when you are able to turn down unreasonable requests from a boss, a peer or a friend, firmly yet politely.
It all starts with that all important step –‘sayingno’when it is justified. Here, be soft on the person, but tough on the issue and put forward a clear and concise explanation supported with facts.
Once that is done, accept the consequences. Don’t wait for acceptance or allow the other person to make you feel guilty for being assertive. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Anger at the workplace only leads to a loss of credibility. The moment you get angry, the strength of your argument is lost.Resorting to humour, instead, is a great way to reduce resistance and diffuse tension.
To avoid direct confrontation, and also prevent hurt egos, use techniques like clouding (respond without any logical connection) or camouflage (limited response).The right body language and effective use of eye statement while putting a message forward is another assertive technique that works well with superiors.
Now take the test to see if your assertive skills will work for you: Do you usually have confidence in your judgment? If someone has a better solution do you accept it easily? Do you accept positive criticism and suggestions? Do you ask for assistance when you need them?
If you are ticking all the above boxes, then you have discovered the winner in you. You are as good as anyone else, affirm these thoughts in your mind and you will go places.
• While saying ‘no’, put forward a logical explanation supported with facts.
• Be soft on the person, tough on the issue.
• Anger leads to a loss of credibility.
• Resort to humourto reduce resistance.
Sathya Menon is Executive Director (Academics), Blue Ocean Academy, Dubai.