All of us have, at some point, been scared to speak up for ourselves. Over the years, this fear still lurks in the minds of some people. As a result, they are usually sidelined at work. These individuals are so apprehensive of the results of their own conflict-management skills that they end up being a complete pushover.
According to author and journalist Michael Hedrick, “Being assertive is simply trusting your own judgment enough to know when you can or can’t do something and staying firm with that judgment. If you have the experience and you have the skills, what’s stopping you?”
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Here are a few ways one can be more assertive at work:
Don’t just be a silent spectator in the room. Be an active participant in office affairs. When you are a part of meetings or other brainstorming and briefing sessions, ensure that you listen carefully and then put forth your views as well. Ask questions and offer answers when need be. Bring the attention to yourself and you can then start to be more assertive.
Do not derail your ideas with filler words and justifications. In fact, it has been noted that shy people at work often overuse these three words: just, only and try. If you have a habit of muddling up your sentences and butchering the whole point, you need to work on your communication skills. An easy way to start this change in your tone of communication would be to include more assertive phrases in your daily life.
In her famous TED Talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy emphasised the importance of power posing—standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel so confident. She explained that this can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain and might even have an impact on our chances of success. In fact, the most popular Power Pose is called the ‘Wonder Woman Pose’—standing tall with your chest out and your hands on your hips.
According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology’s website, your clothing style affects not only your personality but also your mind. This study shows that if you have a strong cultural association with a garment, wearing it can affect your cognitive processes. This phenomenon is called ‘enclothed cognition’. Play on your strengths and find flattering clothes for yourself that make you feel not just comfortable but also powerful.
According to Kelsey Miller at Refinery29, “Are you asking for something or pressing an issue that falls within your purview? Then you have nothing to be sorry for. It would be a misstep not to ask for that draft or follow up on that request. Apologising in these scenarios is not only needless; it fosters an unhealthy dynamic between you and your coworkers.” Avoid apologising unnecessarily all the time. It only makes you seem like a pushover.
Do not hesitate to take charge of your actions. Do not let others walk away with laurels for your work, and do not pass on the blame for your work to someone else either. This will not only make you appear responsible, but it will also reflect on your trustworthiness.
Do you have any suggestions on how to be more assertive and be heard at work? Share them in the comments section below.