Las Vegas—If you aren't assertive at work, you're stuck in a dead end, warns Mildred Saunders.
"Relationships in the world of the organization will make or break your career," the executive coach told admin pros gathered here recently for the American Association's admin pro conference.
And being assertive—openly and honestly communicating your rights, needs, feelings, desires and abilities—is key to creating relationships built on respect. When you're always submissive or aggressive, you show a lack of respect for yourself, Saunders said.
Saunders' advice for being asser-tive and direct:
• Tell others what you want, using "I" statements. Example: "I need to have a working computer to complete these reports for the morning board meeting." Be specific but brief.
• Use the "broken-record technique" to deliver your message: repeating what you said but using slightly different words.
• Back up your statements with examples, statistics and your experience, but don't overexplain your position. Recognize when to stop.
• Don't undermine your message by apologizing for your stance or using unnecessarily soft tones.
• Don't yield to interruptions.
• Confront problem situations as soon as possible.
Finally, remember that if you're unsure of what you want, you can remain silent until you decide.
For more information on Mildred Saunders, visit