Assertiveness is often considered to be one of the required traits for a successful personal and professional life. So, just how do you go about being more assertive?
Following are a few simple communication techniques that you can practice … starting today.
- Use “I” messages and “feeling” verbs. Assertive communicators personalize their comments by starting sentences with the word “I” and by choosing verbs that express feelings. “I enjoyed your presentation” makes a stronger statement than “Your presentation was well-done.”
- Discuss your goals and accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to tell coworkers: “I plan to increase my sales by at least 10 percent this month” or “I’m proud that I won the sales award for last quarter.”
- Show an interest in others. An assertive communicator can read another person’s body language, or tone of voice and react appropriately with phrases like “I’m glad you got that promotion” or “I see you’re relieved that project’s over.”
- Match your delivery to your message. To be believable, your own body language and vocal expression should reinforce what you’re saying. In other words, if you look sullen and sound serious when you tell someone you’re happy about her promotion, you’ll probably come across as insincere. Instead, put a smile on your face and in your voice.
- Know how to respond to compliments.When someone compliments you, acknowledge it and accept it graciously. For instance, if a coworker says she likes your suit, say “Thanks for noticing my suit. It’s my favorite.” Don’t say, “Gee, I’ve had this old thing for almost five years.” Comments like that can make the other person feel uncomfortable.
- Disagree mildly. If you’re unsure of another person’s thoughts or feelings, state your position firmly, quietly and in a no demanding, uncritical way. Say something like, “It’s hard for me to see how your solution will work.” Gently shaking your head “no” will support your verbal message.
- Disagree more emphatically when it’s necessary to get your point across. If you’re sure someone’s idea isn’t going to work and they’re being stubborn about it, make your message stronger. Say “Your solution won’t solve this problem” or “That’s not how I see it.” Reinforce your words by leaning forward, speaking a little louder and engaging in direct eye contact.
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