Results Through Relationship: Speak up with Courage

Assertiveness will pay off, aggressiveness gets you laid off

People often mistake assertiveness as synonyms for aggressiveness. The emotional or physical force used to express one’s feelings, needs and rights associated with aggressiveness can rub off people the wrong way. They back away from potential business opportunities in fear they may be coming across no different as that obnoxious salesperson that breathes down your neck and makes you feel victimized. However, while aggression conjures up thoughts of arrogance, rudeness and intimidation, assertiveness is its sweet little sister who comes to soften demanding and difficult people that would culminate in a happier situation.


When solving a problem, compromise is almost When solving a problem, compromise is almost always necessary. Difficult people can be very stubborn. Always listen to what they have to say, then express your own point of view and try to look for a middle ground solution that would prove to be satisfactory for the both of you. You must be willing to negotiate and not be demanding. Being assertive is not going to get you everything you want, but it will certainly let you be heard rather than being a doormat or overly pushy.


Always strive to project a Grace Kelly-like aura, be self-assured and stand your ground. ‘No’ is not always the wrong answer when said the right way. You are more likely to be taken seriously if you appear poised and self-confident rather than aggressive and hostile, and not letting your emotions get the better of you will allow you to address the situation more objectively. Remember, in a professional environment, being emotional is a sign of weakness. Your boss is looking for someone who can perform. If you feel like you cannot handle the situation at present, take a rain check and come back to the problem later.


One of the easiest ways to distinguish between an aggressive and an assertive person is from the way they speak. Use ‘I’ language : ‘I have a different opinion. I think that…’ as opposed to `If only you would do it this way…’. The latter statements sound full of blame and negativity and would cause the other person to react defensively. Be direct. Deliver your message to the person for whom it was intended, not via another person. Be as specific and clear as possible about what you want, think or feel without being rude or demeaning. Ask for feedback. This lets others know you are expressing an opinion rather than a demand. Questions such as “How do you think this should be done?”, “What do you propose?” encourages others to correct any misconceptions they may have. Remembering your value in your organization makes it easier to be assertive. Don’t be afraid of appearing to be aggressive or selfish. Assertiveness takes time, energy, patience and self-control. If done correctly, your assertiveness will help others realise your inherent value in any business or company and you’ll be well on your way in building a powerful reputation.


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