Assertiveness - Personality Trait or Communication Skill?

Dr. Purushothaman
September 30, 2013

Many seemingly enlightened companies make substantial invests in people development. They give their employees for technical training, soft skills training, and management training. They feel in equipping their human assets using the skills and competencies required for success on the job, and therefore are willing to spend money for it. If only which was enough.

The different options are a fortune on training and grooming management candidates for advancement. But no matter how skilled people are, they're not going to go above the middle ranks of management unless they are also assertive.

Studies show that only five to twenty per cent from the human population is assertive. Yet you will observe that nearly all top managers are assertive.

So why do very few employers send their new managers for assertiveness training? Many view assertiveness like a personality trait that a fortunate not many are either born with or develop throughout their childhood. They assume people either are assertive or they're not. They don't see assertiveness like a group of skills that may be developed.

What is assertiveness?

Assertiveness is just the ability to operate for yourself without stepping on anyone else's toes. It means communicating your interests in a manner that is apparent, direct, specific, and considerate. It is the "Golden Mean" between passive and aggressive. If you cannot operate for yourself, you are passive. If you can stand up on your own but overlook the rights and feelings of others, you may be aggressive.

Most people taking assertiveness training are passive rather than aggressive. Passive people might have unsatisfactory and unbalanced relationships, with no cooperation of healthy interpersonal relationships. They might regret their lack of assertiveness and resent others. They may also suffer from low self-esteem and depression.

Assertive individuals have positive self-esteem. They enjoy fulfilling relationships based on open communication and mutual respect. They be responsible for their feelings, statements, and actions. Assertive people operate on their own, exercising their rights while recognising the rights and opinions of others. Why wouldn't every company want almost all their managers to become assertive?

Assertiveness skills

You will find three common skill sets that assertive people use. The very first is a chance to say "no".

Lots of people find it hard to ignore a request. There may be cultural norms at play here, but let's not blame culture entirely. The truth is people often say "yes" when they want to say "no" as they do not wish to offend your partner or seem disagreeable. But the ability to say "no" helps us protect our most valuable commodity: time.

There are many ways to say "no" without causing offence, plus they can be learned and practiced. For instance, simply adding grounds for your refusal, or offering an alternative, can make your "no" more palatable.

A second area of assertiveness may be the capability to ask. People often neglect to request things they need or want because they do not wish to trouble others, or appear incapable or demanding. Yet they are entitled to many of these things they're reluctant to ask for.

Imagine a new manager being reluctant to people for assistance, or feeling too inhibited to delegate effectively. Fortunately, She can learn how to ask without imposing by asking in a good time, being direct, and smiling. Most importantly, frame your request in the other person's perspective - make it easy for him to say "yes."

There's more to assertiveness than being able to ask and say "no." Another set of skills may be the capability to craft assertive messages. Suppose your boss does something you realize is inappropriate. Will you speak out or be neglected? A chance to stand up for ourselves is advantageous in a wide range of situations.

Along with learning to communicate assertively, we are able to learn to act assertively. This requires eliminating unassertive behaviors, gestures, and speech patterns and replacing them with assertive and confident ones.

Try and stop passive behaviors such as avoiding eye contact, slouching, speaking too softly, and being indecisive. Avoid passive speech patterns such as rambling or uncertain statements, making frequent justifications or apologies, and putting yourself down.

Adopt assertive behaviors such as maintaining good posture, looking people in the eye, moving with full confidence and purpose, and being decisive. Consult with authority and also at a relaxed pace, express your requirements clearly and directly, and be considerate of others.

By treating assertiveness like a group of skills and behaviors that can be learned, companies can help develop their managers to succeed in the highest quantity of an organization.


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