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Be Assertive: 10 Ways To Stop Forgetting About Yourself

Be Assertive: 10 Ways To Stop Forgetting About Yourself

Assertiveness has become a bit of a buzzword. We constantly hear about the benefits of being more assertive. Assertiveness enables us to take care of ourselves without being overbearing.

There is research being done on the delicate balance between being passive and aggressive. Ultimately the “assertive you” will boil down to knowing your self worth and practicing the behaviors of being more assertive.

There are many strategies for being more assertive. In this post I would like to share some of the small, specific things you can start doing today to be more assertive without turning into an aggressive butthole.

Start with “I” statements

Rather than being with a “You” when talking to someone, start with “I.” This shows that you are being accountable for yourself and sharing what you think and need.

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Example: Instead of saying, “You keep interrupting me” you can change it to “I would like to finish what I was going to say without being interrupted”

Make your requests more intentional

Instead of asking people if they wanna do something (“you wanna go over that presentation?”), show your intention and make the request clear.

Example: “please review the presentation before the meeting”

Share the facts that you notice

When you see your colleague acting lazy or disengaged from work, it is a good idea to give feedback on what you notice. The impulse may be to say “hey, why are you being so lazy!”

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Don’t give in. Keep things factual and share what you notice.

Example: “I noticed that you’ve come in half an hour late 3 times this week.”

Take a breath and assertively ask to think

Being assertive doesn’t always mean you have to have an immediate answer. There will be times where you need to process what is being said and it is okay to say, “let me think for a second.” This response shows that you acknowledged the request and gives you a few moments to gather your thoughts.

Politely say no without explanation

This is not a time for maybes. Be direct when you say no when you mean it. Make sure you body language is congruent with your words. Don’t feel like you need to give a reason if you don’t want to.

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Acknowledge criticism

This doesn’t mean that you agree or disagree with it. It does show that you have listened to the other person and can take it into consideration before sharing your opinion.

Cut out hedge statements

Saying things like “this is only my opinion” or “I’m not sure if I’m right here” discredits your opinion. You can cut these out and just go straight to what you think. This will come off as being more confident in what you are saying.

Offer an alternative

There will be times when you want to help someone out, but not at that moment. Use this as an opportunity to be assertive and suggest something that works for you.

Example: “I’d love to help out, unfortunately that deadline won’t work for me. Is it flexible?”

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Another example: “It sounds interesting. I’m not comfortable with ABC. Can we discuss other ways I might contribute?”

Study effective communication strategies

Communication is the heart of assertiveness. Making the study of communication a daily habit is good practice you can implement. You’ll learn many effective ways to express what you want and gain agreements.

Stand like superman

Amy Cuddy gave a powerful ted talk on how body language impacts how others see us and also how we feel within ourselves. Standing in confident postures can actually change how you feel. So the next time you are preparing to be assertive in a meeting, strike a pose first.

Featured photo credit: Highways Agency via flickr.com

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Paris Law

Life Coach & Designer

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Last Updated on February 20, 2019

18 Ways to Have Effective Communication in the Workplace

18 Ways to Have Effective Communication in the Workplace

“I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

An old joke, but painfully true.

Though we humans more or less invented verbal communications, we are still not very good at it. Miscommunication is so common that novelist Doug Adams once opined that if we actually understood everything everyone said, it would cause the end of the universe.

Jokes aside, clarity of communications is a primary job of business leaders, and one of the tough things first they must master. For without clear communications, employees cannot collaborate, and nothing useful happens.

In this article, we’ll look into 18 ways to improve communication in the workplace so you can avoid miscommunication and work more efficiently.

What Is Communication About?

Radio engineers know that for good communications to occur, the transmitter should be strong, the receiver should have a good antenna, and there should be very little radio frequency (RF) interference.

It’s about sending, receiving and noise.

Likewise, with people, the person communicating (spoken, written, doesn’t matter) should be clear, the receiver should be attentive, and distractions should be kept at a minimum.

The problem is that all too rarely do these three things happen at once, and hence many office communications fail. Yet everyone has the tools they need to improve all of them. Interestingly, when leaders are good at these three factors, employees tend to improve their communication as well.

How to Have Effective Communication in the Workplace

Here are some easy-to-practice tips for improving communications in your workplace.

1. Be a Good Listener

You are a receiver and need that good antenna. In fact, you have two of them – your ears – which should be used twice as much as your transmitter – your mouth.

Good listening begins with being fully present and engaged. Anything less tells the other person you don’t really care.

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These tips can help you to be a good listener:

13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

2. Don’t Pass on Gossip

Gossip, aside from potentially being destructive, is noise. It is “information” unnecessary to conducting work, a big distraction, and a time waster.

If you’re not sure how to deal with gossips at work, take a look at this article:

7 Things to Do in a Gossipy Work Environment

3. Speak in a Soft Voice

Social media is teaching us that when everyone is shouting, the calm, quiet voice is heard the loudest.

Even when tempted to raise your voice, don’t, and you will be heard very clearly.

4. Praise Often for Anything Others Do That Is Worthwhile

People who feel unappreciated make lousy listeners. They might find it not worth their time, or that the speaker is not being forthright.

But when a person is valued, and told so in no uncertain terms, then they listen with eagerness. Authentic praise builds better antennae on the listener.

Here’re 7 Reasons Why You Should Pay a Compliment to Someone Every Day

5. Be Honest and Ethical

There is a reason people dislike engaging politicians, lawyers and used car salesmen. These people try to please others by using flowery languages which are not true.

Be honest and ethical and you’ll gain trust from others and people will think that you’re reliable.

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6. Never Use Condescending or Vulgar Language

It doesn’t matter how thick-skinned a person is, talking down to them or in a way that sounds abusive is noise that prevents them from fully engaging you.

Filter your mind and your mouth, and you will notice those around you more eager to hear what you have to say.

7. Have a Good Work Ethic

Nobody pines for the opinions of slackers.

Be responsible, work hard and go on the extra miles to help colleagues who need an extra hand.

Here’re some tips for you to have a good work ethic:

How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

8. Treat Others Fairly

If you don’t think you are going to get a fair deal, you likely discount what a schemer tells you.

If people in your company perceive you as treating others without an even hand, someone will tune you out and pull down their antennae.

But when they know you will treat them with the same honor you treat others, then they want to hear what you have to say.

9. Be a Happy Person and Be Kind to Everyone

How often do you want to listen to a grouchy or antagonistic person? Likely, never. Neither does the person you are talking to.

Be happy, supportive and helpful even when you don’t feel like it.

10. Be Calm Under Stress

This is one of the most difficult tactics to master, but it pays well.

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We all have been amazed by EMTs, police officers, surgeons and the like who can keep their cool in life-and-death situations. And if involved, we immediately followed their commands.

When you keep your head about you, others will too.

If you find it hard to handle stress, check out this advice:

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

11. Be Friendly and Courteous

Try this experiment:

The next time you are on the phone with a tired-sounding customer support representative, be as happy, friendly and polite as possible. You can hear their voice change as they happily engage you.

Now, imagine how well that works when you are face-to-face with your officemate. Honey beats vinegar every time.

12. Be Engaging

To engage means to occupy the attention or efforts of a person or persons. This requires being a bit outside of yourself, to holistically connect in both the give and take of a communication. When you do so, you occupy their attention.

If you are not ready to be fully engaging, then wait before starting an important communication.

13. Don’t Be Wasteful with Time

We all are born with a finite amount of time. So, it is little wonder that people dislike having theirs wasted (which is why so many office meetings are disagreeable).

Know what you need to say or learn, get to the point, and then disengage so the other person doesn’t feel the conversation is not worth their time.

14. Speak Slowly and Don’t Use Complicated Words

Talking fast either makes you sound like a huckster or causes your meaning to be lost. Using unnecessarily complex language or jargon is in the same sphere as speaking condescendingly.

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Don’t rush and don’t talk above the lexicon of the listener.

15. Be More Concerned About Others Than Yourself

The attitude “It’s all about me” is a lousy way to engage others, in no small part because it isn’t all about you.

The skill you need here is empathy: 5 Tips for Empathetic Listening

It is about them, coworkers, teams, departments and the company at large. Put yourself, your needs and your interests on the back burner.

16. Be Truly Humble and Forgiving

The Golden Rule cannot be applied without humility and understanding. Likewise, with true, deep and fulfilling communications.

There is no shame in being human, but it requires giving as much as you would like to get if the roles were reversed. Always be human and humane when communicating with your boss, your teammates and your employees.

17. Keep Your Workplace Neat and Tidy

My partner, Warren Muller, was not tidy. But he was a genius, and thus worth listening to despite maintaining an office of perpetual clutter. Unless you are a genius, you will discover that people listen to you better when they perceive you to be well organized.

18. Be Aware of Your Personal Hygiene

This should go without saying in the 21st century. Hygiene is an ante, a minimal aid to social interaction. In the absence of it, the other person – regardless of whether they are the speaker or listener – has many reasons to not be fully engaged.

The Bottom Line

To have effective communication in the workplace, it goes beyond the words you speak.

With the right attitude and mindset, you will demonstrate the communication skills you need to work with your boss, your teammates and employees efficiently.

Practice the above 18 ways in your workplace and start to improve your communication skills at work!

More Resources About Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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