How To Confidently Assert Yourself At Work

Dr. Purushothaman
September 30, 2013

To assert yourself means to confidently express what you feel, what you need, and what you expect from others in a non-threatening manner. However, in the workplace sometimes asserting oneself can be easier said than done.

Often the work environment can be highly demanding and stressful and, as a result, be also a difficult place to effectively assert your self. However, the good news is that it can be done. Here are some tips to help you do that.

First and foremost, you need to know yourself, knowing what you want or need from your co-workers. Knowing what we need or want from others requires us to have an understanding of ourselves and what is expected of us, especially in the work environment.

Knowing, for example, what is required to complete a particular project and your responsibilities in regard to its completion will help you identify what you want or need from co-workers to fulfill those responsibilities. Once you know this then you can objectively request or delegate the needed help by asserting yourself.

When asserting yourself to gain the help of others in the workplace you want to be as detailed, yet as concise, as possible when instructing or explaining your wants and/or needs to them. If, in explaining your needs or wants, you are not clear you can open the door to confusion and, as we all know, confusion is counterproductive to accomplishing anything, much less effectively asserting yourself.

If you sense confusion encourage your co-workers to ask questions so that you can clarify yourself.

Sometimes someone may ask a question in a negative way. Address all negative feedback in a rationally way and do not take it in as a personal attack.

Many people do not know how to effectively ask questions and it’s not that they mean to be negative, it often is just the way have learned to communicate. If you can help them or guide them attempt to do so.

Also, sometimes people are preoccupied with other thoughts when asking a question in a negative manner. If this is the case give that person the opportunity to discuss or vent their reoccupation if you are in a position to do so.

In almost every work environment there is someone who knows how to get under the skin of others. If you happen to experience this with a co-worker don’t become aggressive, but rather turn the situation around by joking with them, or even being nice to them.

If their behavior is offensive let them know in a direct, firm and logical manner that what they are doing is offending you. If this fails you may then need to get others involved to correct the behavior.

When asserting yourself with managers or supervisors it is wise to know what you are going to say before you say it. Again, this requires you knowing what you want or need form these people before you approach them.

Many managers don’t have time to help you sort out what you want or need from them and if they have to help you with this you aren't asserting yourself.

Having the courage to speak your mind is also a part of assertiveness.

But speaking your mind must be done without being an offense or belligerent to others, while at the same time expressing your wants or needs. If you are offensive or belligerent people will perceive you as being aggressive, and aggression is not being assertive.

Aggressive behavior is threatening to other people, whereas assertiveness is not.

Read Related Recent Articles