Isn't it nice when you know what someone wants? Imagine how different life and work would be if everyone was open and honest about what they wanted.
The University of Texas defines assertiveness as "a direct, honest expression of your feelings and opinions" that does not "violate the rights of another person."
Oftentimes we are paralyzed when it comes to being assertive for a number of reasons.
We don't want to seem too harsh or demanding.
Maybe we worry we are asking for too much.
Perhaps we think we should just be able to handle things ourselves.
Being assertive could also lead to rejection -a feeling we all avoid - because, by being assertive, we risk our opinions or thoughts being mocked, ridiculed, ignored or made fun of.
These are all natural and reasonable concerns - especially if you are someone who has not always been the assertive type.
One thing to be sure of is to not confuse assertiveness with aggression. Being assertive has an element of self-confidence to it.
Assertiveness is constructive; Aggression is hostile.
Think of a time in your life when you were exactly where you needed to be. Maybe you were making dinner or fixing a leak or repairing a vehicle.
Think about what you needed to do at that time. You were confident and certain. You knew exactly how long it would take, what you would need, how much it would cost and who could do what (if anything) to help.
During these times, you may have been open to suggestions, but you were certain of the goal and you could get it done.
If you transpose these scenarios to your career and put your mind in that same space, you may find that being assertive is not a way of being mean. It is an effective and measurable way to get things done that need to be done.
So the next time the opportunity to be assertive presents itself, keep these things in mind:
1. Knowing what someone wants is as valuable as knowing what your own limitations are.
Being able to clarify the objective (i.e., "Let me just make sure I'm clear.") shows your dedication to the job being done properly. Likewise, being willing to say, "I am not sure I can get this done in this way but I am certain I can get that done," provides your team, customers, and clients with a reason to trust you.
2. Saying what you want, need, expect, and can do creates success and satisfaction for you.
Being able to say you are not comfortable with a certain task, time frame, order, or suggestion opens the door for dialogue and shows people that you are open to talk but not willing to sacrifice the integrity of your own work or the performance of your company for the sake of niceness.
3. You are a more reliable and trustworthy employee if you are assertive.
When you say, "I need--" or "I want--" you are setting proper boundaries for yourself which makes you more reliable not only to your employees but your colleagues as well. It can be difficult to trust someone who has no boundaries.
If you are someone who has not always been assertive, realize that even though change can be hard, it is a necessary step to changing your life and achieving success.
One sure way to make sure you are not the victim of burn-out or overworking, is to be clear about your goals and assertive about that clarity.
Ultimately, not only will those you work with be happy to deal with someone honest and reliable, but you will find you are more comfortable in knowing exactly where you stand because you're setting your rules and boundaries.