4 strategies for being assertive

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Colette Carlson, the founder of Speak Your Truth and columnist for Administrative Professional Today, shares her four key points to being assertive, yet professional, to communicate what you want at work.

#1: Assertiveness is rooted in respect — respect for yourself enough to speak up, but also respect for the person you’re having the conversation with. You want to make sure that the words you choose and your tone are appropriate.

#2: You always want to make sure that you stick to the behaviors and facts — things that you can actually see with your own eyes versus opinions or hearsay. It always seems to be more effective, plus nobody can really say, “Well, that’s not true!”

#3: Make sure you ask clearly and directly for what you want. Too often we tell people what we don’t want, but we never are clear on what we do want.

#4: You want to make sure that the person you’re speaking to has an understanding. Ask this person if he or she is clear on what you’ve shared or if he or she would like to add to the conversation. That way, it creates a meeting of the minds. Example: Let’s say that you want to attend an off-site meeting and that hasn’t happened for you in quite a while, and you want to go to your supervisor and have this conversation. Start with the facts. Say to your supervisor, “You know, in the three years that I’ve been working here I’ve yet to be able to attend an off-site meeting.” Now, ask for what you want: “There’s a great conference that I’ve done the research and homework on that I’m interested in attending, and I’d like to share more about it with you.” Now, look for agreement: “Is this something you’re open to having a conversation about?” In that moment, you’ve clearly, directly asserted yourself, asked for what you want with grace, and you’ve also opened up the conversation to learn more.

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