Jan 19 2017
Removing your blocks to assertivness

Guest blog by Duncan Lewin. 

Do you always make yourself heard at work? Are you able to express yourself clearly and openly? Or do you hold back? Say ‘yes’, when you mean ‘no’? Put on a ‘work personality’ different to that which you display in your private life?

In asking people which personal attribute they would most like to improve at work, ‘assertiveness’ is one of the most prominent. So what blocks you from being assertive at work? For me, it is down to the fears we have around others’ reactions to our open communication. If you want to be more assertive, you have to be able to identify and examine how these fears are affecting you.

Assertiveness tools

Here are two tools I’ve used in helping me assert myself better:

1. Finding your fears

Bring to mind a person, or group of people, you struggle to assert yourself with at work. Make a list of the adjectives you are afraid they will think of you if you speak your truth:

For example, “If I say what I really feel about this project, I am afraid they will think I am…..stupid, wrong, difficult, unhelpful."

Take this list and ask yourself, “Where is it in my life that I sometimes see myself as ‘stupid’, ‘wrong’, ‘difficult’ and ‘unhelpful’?” Find 3 (or more) specific examples for each of these judgements.

When you can really look at where you make these judgements on yourself, and see where they are true for you, are you still so afraid of what your colleagues might think of you? Or can you now see that what they may say about you are things you’ve already told yourself, in which case, where’s the problem? The more you understand this fear, the smaller it gets and the easier it becomes to then speak out with any audience.

2. What's the worst that can happen?

Make a list of the worst things that can happen if you speak your truth at work. For example:

- People won’t like me

- I will be sidelined for promotion

- I’ll lose my job

And then identify 3 reasons why each of these things would be the ‘best that can happen’ to you. What would be good about losing your job? About being overlooked for promotion?

Often the mind doesn’t want to go there and we resist looking. But the truth is, all of these outcomes can and do happen to many people every year. When you really look, can you see how you would survive, and maybe even prosper if any of these outcomes were to come true?

Duncan Lewin delivers training and coaching to help people improve their self-awareness, assertiveness and emotional intelligence skills at work.

Here at the Centre, our personal effectiveness courses help to give you that extra boost, whether that is to give you greater confidence in your role, to give assertiveness to speak up in meetings and appraisals, or better time manage your workload. See our one-day Assertiveness skills and Self awareness at work courses, available on our open training programme or delivered at your office.

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