When trying to get something accomplished, assertive behavior is the most effective. Although other methods may accomplish the intended ends, the alternatives imperil our own rights or those of others, creating conflict and building mistrust into relationships. One of the keys to effectiveness is learning how to communicate thoughts and feelings without jeopardizing yourself or others, and this ability elevates both morale and productivity in the workplace.
Distinguish for yourself what is submissive, assertive, and aggressive behavior in different situations. Consider your non-verbal behavior as well. Pick a situation and imagine how you usually handle it. Write down your usual responses in posture, eye contact, voice, tone, facial expression, and physical contact.
Now, pinpoint your own blocks to assertiveness: fear of disapproval, need to please others, fear of being too masculine or feminine, or the dread of making mistakes.
Visualize yourself dealing effectively with a problem situation by considering alternative responses. Do not act hastily or in anger—calm yourself before the confrontation—take a deep breath with eyes closed and concentrate on controlling your temper. Practice remaining calm, collected, courteous. Be prepared to present yourself rationally and factually without emotion or conjecture. Avoid making mountains out of molehills. Pursuing an issue that is small will discredit you when an important issue needs to be faced and resolved. Repeat this step as often as necessary until you can comfortably imagine yourself dealing with the situation.
By becoming assertive, you become more effective. Allowing yourself to dismiss any fears you may have on acting assertively benefits you, your employee, and your bottom line. A good leader approaches every situation with a level head, takes the time to identify the best course of action, and then assertively assigns each team member a specific duty. Improper communication and avoidance of conflict create problems. As the manager, it is your job to make sure these problems do not occur. So be assertive!
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CEO, A. E. Schwartz & Associates, Boston, MA. , a comprehensive organization which offers over 40 skills based management training programs. Mr. Schwartz conducts over 150 programs annually for clients in industry, research, technology, government, Fortune 100/500 companies, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. He is often found at conferences as a key note presenter and/or facilitator. His style is fast-paced, participatory, practical, and humorous. He has authored over 65 books and products, and taught/lectured at over a dozen colleges and universities throughout the United States.