Assertiveness is a strategy for gaining mutual respect that helps resolve conflicts. It is the key to good, clear, professional communication. It is about being neither passive and walked all over nor aggressive and confrontational – it’s about getting your point across in a confident manner. When you use assertiveness you can negotiate changes by stating directly what you think, feel and want.
Think about the way you are perceived by others, which includes the way you sound, the words you use and how your attitudes affect other people. Being assertive means you take responsibility for your own wants, needs and decisions. It results in better working relationships and less stress, as feelings of guilt and anger won’t build up and it will save time and energy.
Be tenacious – people who are not assertive will often give up easily but the assertive ones will stand up for their ‘rights’. As long as they are being reasonable, they should be tenacious and persistent to enforce their beliefs and achieve a win–win outcome. Note, though, that being tenacious and persistent does not mean ‘winning’ at any cost.
An assistant will constantly need to demonstrate assertiveness in his/her role with both the boss and other colleagues (ie being neither passive nor aggressive). However, it is not appropriate to be assertive in every situation. The choice of strategy will depend on your own short and long-term goals and those of the other people involved. You need to anticipate their likely response to your chosen strategy and the implications of the possible outcome.
Being assertive will enable you to express your feelings, ideas, wishes, suggestions, needs, and opinions or rights directly and honestly without the other person getting angry, anxious, upset or defensive, while respecting the feelings, attitudes, wishes, opinions and rights of others. This may include expressing such emotions as empathy, anger, fear, caring, hope, joy, despair, indignation or embarrassment, but these will be expressed in a manner that does not violate other people’s rights.
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