Want to feel more confident speaking up in the office? Looking to be heard at work and for people to know when you’re in the room? Then you’ll need to flex those assertive muscles to make sure people sit up and take notice. Take the first steps to increase assertiveness with Wise Amigo.

What is Assertiveness and why is it important?

Assertiveness is about confident and powerful expression through your words and actions. As such it has a huge bearing on successful interactions at work and more generally, in leading and influencing others. Being good at it, helps make sure people know where you stand. It’ll give you a great foundation to build your impact and gain respect. Oh, and it’s not about being aggressive…

Assertiveness can be the difference between feeling like you can say whatever you want at work versus feeling stuck. On the flip side, feeling like you have to say yes to everything. Or feeling like you can actually say no. It influences whether people see a commanding and assured professional, or a hesitant and unsure beginner. And, when it comes to leading others, you’ll have little choice but to assert yourself, to survive and thrive.

For those new in role

As we know, starting out in a new role can be daunting. It can be hard to express yourself at the best at times. Fear of making mistakes and desire to do well can be crippling. This leads us overthink how we’re coming across to others.

But it’s critical to start getting the real you across. Sharing your thoughts and opinions helps people to see and feel your contribution. This is the start of asserting yourself.

Assertiveness is about what you say and what you do. So while thinking hard about your words, it pays to think about your actions too. From putting your views forward into decisions, through to grasping responsibility with both hands, think of assertiveness as moving forward, confidently – speaking and doing.

Don’t be afraid

A big worry, for many, is saying something that might be deemed obvious, say in a meeting. But more often than not this is us overthinking things again. Anything that helps a decision or increases understanding can be valuable – so say it.

Show courage

Push back and show courage when you have to. Better to say yes, but not right now, than yes to everything put in front of you. Of course, it depends on what the ask is and who it’s from. But, weigh it up. Buy yourself time by saying you’ll come back to people.

Use affirming language

Speak with belief and be aware of when you’re sitting on the fence. Sitting on the fence can wind some people up. If you’re unsure, say you are.

Challenge others

Be prepared to speak up or defend your position. When you’re new, the experienced people won’t always be right, or even ethical. So be ready to speak up.

Track your assertiveness

Track your assertiveness, what’s working and what’s not. Scrapbook your reflections after key situations. Write down what went well and what need’s more attention at the next opportunity.

As you move up

In tandem with building experience, build your assertiveness. Finding your voice and growing your confidence increases your presence in the room. It helps raise your profile and elevate your status. People should start to see what you’re made of, and this’ll influence the opportunities that welcome your way.

Somewhat expectedly, the more you assert yourself, the more you position yourself for responsibilities you aspire to. Want to work on the new product? Tell people you do. Want to work with the top client? Get in front of them. Want to have some budget for a new initiative? Ask for it… You can see where we’re going with this.

As you assert yourself more and more, others see what you’re about too. They’ll sit up and take notice. And importantly, those who can impact your career will start to make judgements about what they might send your way based on the capabilities you assert.

Create opportunities to practice

Speak publicly and practise being assertive. Overlapping with a focus on being a great communicator, practise emphasising your key points and values, with power and influence. Learn what works and tailor your approach.

Get a grip

Get a hold of the relevant Elements. Of course, on WiseAmigo we’ve the Assertiveness Element. But as there’s no limit to the kind of situations you can test out and develop your assertiveness, include Presenting & Pitching, Communicating, Inspiring others, Managing conflict or Managing performance Elements.

Find an assertive mentor

Spend time with people who are great at being assertive. Maybe they’re strong with clients. Maybe you’ve seen people fascinated by them… Whatever it is, you might learn from shadowing them. Reflect on what works for them. Ask them. Then try it out.

Manage exchanges and discussions

Volunteer to facilitate meetings or discussions. Being assertive is as much about managing exchanges as it is about getting your own point across. So try out the role of chair or convenor. Learning how to intervene, bring people in, manage time and challenges in conversation will all help. And it’ll do no harm to your increasing credibility.

Develop an elevator pitch

This could be about your role, your passions, what you bring, etc. And you can tailor it to whoever you’re meeting. Bottom line, it’ll help you think about what you want to say about you, when you meet people.

Make a great first impression

Focus on how you can make a great first impression. Interactions are usually easier if they start well. So focus on kicking off with a good exchange. Practise being natural. Relax. Make your first impressions high quality, professional and warm.

Becoming a leader

Assertive body language during a conversation

As you develop, it’s okay to be testing the water and getting things wrong. Sometimes we can all be guilty of being too assertive or indeed not being assertive enough. But when you’re a leader, there’s no margin for error. You’ll be expected to be assertive. And know exactly just how much assertiveness is enough.

Leaders are assertive. They step forward into the space in front of them, quickly, firmly, naturally. More often than not, they’ll welcome the need to speak first. But they’ll know when to hold back too. Once there, your responsibilities as a leader will demand that you’re assertive. Naturally. To make tough decisions, drive teams or take risks.

Test yourself

Test your assertiveness in high profile situations. Serious negotiations. Speaking to the workforce. Representing the firm. Whatever the situation, plan to be assertive and have confidence going into your discussions.

Be emotional

Use your emotions. Beware of when they work for and against you. Practice balancing displays of passion when flexing your assertiveness. Become a master at winning hearts as well as minds.

Stand and deliver

Routinely speak to your followers in person. Take the stage and practice powerful communication. Give updates, tell stories, share anecdotes. Make them laugh, share something serious and engage them. All assertively.

Assert your uncertainty

Be comfortable asserting your uncertainty. Not everything is black and white. Leaders have to be comfortable commenting on uncertainty. So while it might sound better to be crystal clear to your followers. You can’t always be so.

Protect your time

Be assertive in protecting your time. You’ll be in demand. So only get involved when you’re absolutely needed. When there’s a fire to put out or something critical.

Mix it up

Try different leadership styles and flex your assertiveness appropriately. Mix directive and delegatory styles, with more consultative or consensual styles. Consider when to be assertive and reflect on what works for you. Don’t stop learning.

Get feedback

Think about how others see you. Assertiveness fuels all sorts of leader-like characteristics. Consider the decisive or fast, facilitative or chairs, powerful or formidable. Get feedback. See how your assertiveness affects your impact.

Developing Assertiveness

On the whole, being a great leader isn’t all about assertiveness. But, it helps to know how and when you should turn it up. It takes a long time to develop too, it’s a journey. From finding your voice and saying no, to addressing large crowds with powerful communication that gets them going.

Developing assertiveness, can be a roller coaster journey. You’ll face fears, learn techniques, suffer setbacks and feel elation. But at the end of the day, so will those looking to you for assertive guidance, vision and direction. Being assertive helps convince people that you’re someone they can place their trust in to keep going when things get tough. So lead by example and focus on developing your assertiveness today.

Get set to grow

Development is a journey and the WiseAmigo app is here to help you along the way. Join the WiseAmigo community, create a Spotlight, discover more insightful content and reflect on your assertiveness journey today.

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.
– Winston Churchill.