Aggressive people use fear as a tool and will run over others to get what they want, while passive people will sit back and let life sort of happen to them.
The sweet spot is assertiveness, in which you are forceful but positive. Assertive people are confident and know how to use compromise and tact to achieve their goals. Here are a few ways to be more assertive:
Effectively say no. If you’re asked to work yet another Saturday but you want to spend it with your family, say no with conviction and clarity. Don’t waver or be cajoled by guilt, says Ferne Traeger, an executive coach and founder of Beyond the Boardroom.
Be clear that you can’t do it, but be flexible enough to say yes if it’s a true emergency. “Having a good sense of work/life balance, knowing your limits and even knowing that you have the right to say no will not make you any less of a team player,” says Laine Schmidt, a professional development coach. “It makes you a healthier, more stable employee.”
Ask for what you want. Think in advance about what you’re asking for and why you deserve it. Understanding that you’re worthy of that raise or those days off will give you confidence when requesting it, Traeger says, and you’ll be ready to make a case for yourself by describing what you bring to the table.
If you need something from a co-worker, begin with a statement of understanding and give a compliment, Schmidt says—for example, “I know you’re really busy, but I could really use your expertise on this.” Additionally, don’t be afraid to send friendly reminders that say you appreciate their hard work and you could really use that report they promised, she says.
Confront issues. When a problem arises, whether it’s personal or professional, don’t just hope it goes away. Assertive people try to find solutions and work with others to solve problems. Planning ahead what you’ll say in a kind and constructive manner will reduce the chances of saying something you’ll regret, Schmidt says. Assertive people will seek a constructive solution rather than attacking the other person or remaining silent when something truly bothers them, Traeger says.