woman being confident at work
Photo by Charanjeet Dhiman on Unsplash

Being assertive can be one of the most crucial aspects of your career growth; how? Making your point across the table firmly and fairly exhibits confidence in your personality and skills, which always pushes you toward growth! 

No matter which organization you work for, office politics, competition, and overall work environment, instill fear. We end up confused, lack surety, and hesitate, which keeps us from putting our strong foot forward! One way to effectively stand up against all odds without creating many conflicts is to be assertive.

What is assertiveness?

The Oxford Dictionary defines assertiveness as “[c]onfident and forceful behavior.” In the context of Psychology, assertiveness is being direct, firm, positive, and, when necessary, persistent (Alberti & Emmons, 2008).

In short, assertiveness is the ability to stand up for your beliefs while respecting others and staying calm and positive. It is a style of communication.

5 ways how being assertive helps

Assertive v/s other styles of communication

There are four styles of communication:

  1. Passive: Being indifferent. People cannot express their feelings or needs. They intend to avoid conflict at all costs. An example is a yes-man or a doormat personality.
  2. Aggressive: Being loud. People communicate in loud voices without paying any attention to others. They intend to order people what they want and how they want. An example is a boiler personality.
  3. Passive-Aggressive: Being a liar. Such people appear to be passive on the surface but have aggressive and rebellious thoughts because of all the anger and resentment they keep inside. They generally live in denial. An example is a sarcastic, bitter personality.
  4. Assertive: Being direct. Assertiveness is the most effective form of communication. People can say what they want and are considerate of others as well. An example is a person that you hate when they are right, and they mostly are.
4 types of communication styles

For example, your manager points out your mistake in a team meeting.

Passive approach: You nervously utter yes and commit to taking more care in the future to avoid further conflict.

Aggressive approach: You confront the manager for pointing out the mistake in a public setting in not so friendly manner.

Passive-Aggressive approach: You refuse to take responsibility and are ready with an excuse or find something or someone to shift the blame. You build resentment internally, which might lead to sarcastic comments or gossiping behind the manager’s back.

Assertive approach: You acknowledge the mistake and talk to the manager directly to show their disdain towards this way of pointing once the meeting ends.

Why is assertive communication important?

Assertiveness is an adaptive communication style that helps us stay true to ourselves. 

In the workplace, it is prevalent for others to pull us down, force us to do what they think is right and put obstacles in our success. To not sound rude or unprofessional, we tend to bend, become soft-spoken, and try to ignore things, fearing any scene – and eventually, we lose our confidence, self-respect, and zest to shine, and it all affects our mental health. That is why assertiveness is essential.

Here are a few ways how assertive communication can help you win the game of thrones (At your workplace):

  • Earns us our due respect from others
  • Reduce mental stress
  • We feel responsible for our actions and happiness.
  • It helps us set boundaries with colleagues and bosses, nurturing better professional relationships.
  • Our confidence gets a boost, and that makes our personality really strong. This also brings out our leadership qualities.
  • It frees us from guilt and resentment for the things we never wanted in the first place.

Examples of assertive behavior in the workplace

  1. You can express desires and needs without hesitation and with confidence. For example, if you don’t agree with your boss’s decision, you can directly say: “I don’t agree with this decision. It can lead to more troubles than a solution.
  2. You are aiming for a win-win. You’ll find assertive people trying to resolve any situation in a manner where there is a balance. For example: when your boss says to finish the extra work before you leave, you say: “I have meetings to wrap up before I leave, but I can certainly start with this task first thing in the morning tomorrow.
  3. The use of more ‘I’ statements. “I am responsible for my actions.“, “I do not agree with this approach.” etc.
  4. You can set boundaries and say ‘No’. For example: when your colleague asks you to fill in for them, and you have your commitments too to complete, you say: “Hey buddy, sorry, but my work is still pending. I’ll check with you once I finish my work if you still need my help.
  5. Confident body language. Their posture, tone of communication, eye contact, everything is up to the mark that automatically makes you believe in them.

Caution: Many people relate assertiveness with aggression or being rude, as people are too direct when they talk, but this is not true. 

Being assertive is about letting your voice be heard without disrespecting others. 

Surbhi Mahnot

While some people are naturally assertive, it is still possible for others to learn assertiveness. 

  • Know yourself better to practice assertiveness. Learn about what you need and wish.
  • Learn to set boundaries at work.
  • Start listening more actively, along with speaking.

Recommended Reading: The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself at Work and in Relationships by Randy J. Paterson.

Surbhi Mahnot

Surbhi Mahnot

Surbhi Mahnot is the owner of this blog. She has work experience of almost 10 years in the IT industry in varied roles. At present, she is working full-time on this blog. She is passionate about the importance of personal growth in individual and work life, which reflects in her writing too. Travelling, reading, and shopping are her core interest besides work.