Assertion means standing up for what you want. Stating your needs clearly. It means expressing opposition. It means confrontation and it takes courage. Some find it harder than others because of their natural easy-going style and therefore more practice is required. However, the aim should not be just to gain a win. The aim should be to solve the problem and get the best result. Assertion should not be synonymous with aggression because aggressive people adopt an ‘I win – you lose’ mentality to achieve their objectives.
Assertiveness does not come naturally to all because we have all learned passive behaviours to stave off confrontational situations. However these behaviours can be unlearned and assertive behaviour used to produce results that benefit both parties. Assertiveness training courses and workshops can help delegates increase work effectiveness and productivity, achieve greater control of their daily activities and overcome work stressors.
STAGES OF ASSERTIVENESS FOR LEADERS
There are many ways in which we can be assertive. Let’s look at how some of these are used and how we need to use an escalation or a combination of techniques to become more assertive.
- Issuing instructions – Asking for what we need
- Giving reasons for what we want
- State consequences of actions
- Negotiate gently giving options or alternatives
- Restate your point of view (increase consequences)
- Increase the consequences further
1. Issuing instructions – Asking for what we need
The first rule in assertive language is to be able to state our case/make our point of view. This is best realised when we use positive language, e.g. asking for what we want and need (as opposed to stating what we don’t want).
“I will need this from you…..”
“You need to get it to me by Thursday”
“I need you to repeat this using single line spacing. Thanks”
“I can’t do it now but I’d be happy to do it tomorrow”
2. Giving reasons for what we want
Reasons allow the other party to understand the criteria and why you need something done. This can also be used when you’re explaining why something is a problem. People are more likely to comply when they understand ‘why’ you need something. Reasons given prior to a request or statement allow the other party to process your needs as ‘reasonable’
“I’ve a client meeting tomorrow so I’ll need it proofed today. Thanks”
“We couldn’t process that by 5pm so I’ll do it first thing tomorrow”
3. State consequences of actions
Consequences allow the other party to understand the positive (or negative) results of your objectives. Understanding the value of consequences will allow you to become more effective. Our behaviour and the decisions we make are ‘consequence based’, e.g. we decide to confront a colleague’s continual lateness because it’s affecting the time you can leave to go home. In difficult situations ask yourself ‘what will be the consequences if I take no action’ – this can make the decision stronger and allow you to take action. Remember, we are reluctant to change our behaviour unless we are given the opportunity to choose between the consequences of our current actions and the consequences of different actions. The saying ‘the person with the better consequences will persuade the other person’ is very true in assertive situations.
“I’ll be able to help you out next time if you do this for me”
“We won’t process your expenses if we don’t get all the receipts next time”
“I won’t be able to help you unless you give me the full details”
4. Negotiate gently giving options or alternatives
If you meet with resistance you may need to offer options or suggestions as a way forward, or alternatives that may appeal to the other party. It is best if the conversation is conducted in a positive way, as the other party may treat hostility at this stage as a threat and be triggered into aggressive behaviours.
“What we could do in this situation is the following………”
“I’d be willing to look at it further if you were to give me access to the records”
5. Restate your point of view (increase consequences)
If you meet further resistance you may decide to reaffirm your objectives whilst increasing the consequences to the other party. At this stage, more punitive consequences can be introduced to the argument, i.e. threats or sanctions. If you have progressed to this stage it is important to remember that you must be willing and able to carry out your stated consequences if you wish to be successful otherwise you may run the risk of being ignored or challenged in the future.
6. Increase the consequences further
As a last resort you must state clearly what will happen if the other party does not do as you say. Care must be taken in not stating consequences which you are unwilling or unable to carry out.
“After this time I’ll not be able to help you out anymore as you didn’t send me the information”
“We won’t process your expenses this time unless you include the receipts”
“I won’t continue with this conversation you unless you give me the full details”
- managing difficult people
- assertive behaviour
- improving self confidence
- improving assertiveness
- dealing with aggressive people
- managing conflict
- being firm with members of staff
- dealing with bullying at work
This course will allow delegates to develop confidence and self-esteem so that their opinions will no longer go un-noticed in the workplace. Assertiveness training will provide delegates with effective tactics to build courage and defy work bullies. Those who have attended the courses have expressed that becoming more assertive at work was made easier once they applied the techniques gained from the seminar.
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