Wondering what stops an Assertive You at work place?


Remember that awkward silence which followed a suggestion you made?

That, sarcastic ‘Not Bad You!’ which followed a solution from you?

That terse, ‘And how do you think that will work?’.

One is never really ready to tackle the suffocation of nurturing parents and the cynicism of critical parents at workplace. So how does one feel good about being assertive? When the conversation turns into a discussion.

For that, let us look at what would be the real Assertive You.

When your idea becomes a suggestion becomes a recommendation.

  • Your knowledge, skill, competence translates into ideas. Your ideas could be a solution to the problem or a creative perspective to an impasse. You think you are being assertive when you express your ideas. Not really!
  • Make sure your ideas are not just an opinion. Ensure your idea is feasible, viable. This turns your idea into a suggestion. Then add the outcome/consequence – your suggestion just became a recommendation – a compelling one at that.
  • You know you make sense – validate it. Often the sense in our ideas is not that obvious.

You see, at the end of the day, it is not about how intelligent your idea is but how reliable and relevant it is.

When you dump the disclaimer.

  • Replace the decoration around your expression. We usually tend to start with ‘I may be wrong’ or end with ‘I guess…just saying’. These apologetic disclaimers nullify the value your idea. Even worse, it does not sound like you believe in your own idea either. You think you are being humble and assertive in the same breath? Not really!
  • Start with ‘Here is a recommendation I would like to share with you.’ and end with ‘What do you think – how will this help you?’ When we close with ‘What do you think’ it has a double impact – we are getting the person to think about what we said + if we hear a negation it gives us an opportunity to clear doubts or respond to ‘but’. Never apologise for having an idea and don’t regret sharing it – make it work.

When you understand, agree and yet don’t feel compelled to accept.

  • Isn’t being apologetic a sign of humility? Not really. It is a sign of you being unsure about what you are saying. Humility is when you are open and flexible to discussing your recommendation, you look forward to reworking your suggestion with others’ input to make it more effective. That sounds difficult? Make it simple.  Try the UAA Method – I Understand, I Agree, I (do not) Accept.
    • I understand – is a sign that we are intelligent enough to comprehend. We often hesitate to say so. How many times have we been told, ‘If you understand then why aren’t you doing it?’ And we decide not to show we understand. So today – try it! Say I understand. 
    • I agree – now this is even more difficult. Yet, when we say ‘I agree’ it is a sign that we empathize. ‘I agree from your point of view…’ Now this is instant empathy. Do not stop at, ‘I agree’. The statement is ‘I agree from your point of view… this does not look practical/ this does not seem useful / this may not work. So today – try it! Say I agree from your point of you…
    • I accept – now this is the moment you act on your freedom to do what you choose to. If you accept then go right ahead. If you do not accept, continue the conversation with, ’Could we discuss this a little more?

So today – try it! Say I understand, I agree from your point of view… whether you accept or not. It is not about being right or wrong. It is about turning a disagreement into a discussion. That is assertiveness at workplace.

We all want to become better versions of ourselves. And in this case, assertive. Are you ready for it? Peter Bregman asks –

  1. Do you want to do better?
  2. Are you willing to feel the discomfort of putting in more effort and trying new things that will feel weird and different and won’t work right away?

If the answer to both questions is YES – welcome to The Purpose Room to find the Assertive You.


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