How to stand up for yourself

If you express your beliefs, feelings, and opinions honestly and directly in a socially acceptable manner, you are being assertive. Assertiveness means standing up for yourself but, in the process, respecting the rights of others. To be an effective manager, you will need to act assertively at times when negotiating, giving or receiving feedback, dealing with staff or customers, or defending your position. Here's how you can become a more effective manager by becoming more assertive...

1. Understand what assertiveness means.

Assertiveness falls midway between aggression and submission…

  • Aggressive people are brutally direct, inconsiderate, and domineering when dealing with others.
  • Submissive people are the opposite - indirect, subtle, vague, even shy.
  • Assertive people are honest, communicate feelings, are direct but tactful, and leave people feeling comfortable and positive.

2. Adopt a clear stance and restate your position regularly.

When resolution is called for, make your stance known from the start and make it obvious that you intend to stand firm. Calmly repeat your position whenever the need arises. By being clear and resolute and refusing to be side-tracked, you avoid unnecessary argument.

3. Know when you need to be assertive.

Some situations will require that you take a stance and stick to it. For example:

Saying no.

Can you turn down other people's requests assertively? Learn to say no directly and calmly without hesitation and without lengthy excuses or apologies. Don't fall into the trap of being made to feel guilty, manipulated, or coaxed into giving in.

Making requests.

When you want something, ask for it specifically and directly, rather than hint, manipulate, or demand. To make a request assertively, state your need, ask for action, and give a reason for your request.

Giving criticism.

The ability to be fair and firm when criticising another person is the hallmark of an assertive manager. Be firm, direct, clear, tactful, and compassionate.

Receiving criticism.

An assertive person can listen to criticism without becoming aggressive or defensive, can examine that feedback objectively, and can use the information constructively.

In each of these situations, keep your outcome in mind. Do not engage in a verbal slanging match. Instead, respond positively - either as a gracious loser or as a generous winner.

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