During my tenure as a corporate employee in the manufacturing division of a Fortune 500 company, I was often the only female in team meetings. I knew that speaking up and communicating ideas effectively were important for my success. I could never become a member of the “good ol’ boys club,” but I could influence their respect for me and their perception of my contributions to organizational goals.
As you seek success in business, personal relationships, or any venture, it helps to take stock of your level of self-assertiveness. Assertiveness is the ability to express yourself honestly without undue self-doubt or anxiety. Assertive people are confident, self-assured, and often recognized as leaders. It’s apparent not only in their communication, but in their behaviors as well.
While some people are born assertive, for others self-assertiveness is a cultivated skill. I was fortunate enough to attend an all-girls high school that focused on ways to be effective in these kinds of settings.
If you need solutions to deal with an office bully, overzealous friend, aggressive business partner, or to improve your negotiation skills, implement these three strategies to gain control and enhance your interactions with others.
1. Identify your boundaries and set limits.
Don’t be a pushover. Figure out where to draw the line when dealing with others. How much abuse are you willing to take? Be honest with yourself and avoid letting self-doubt stop you from defining new boundaries.
Start by writing down your plan to manage various situations. Research suggests that externalizing your thought process improves your chances of making a lasting impact on your future behavior. Pay attention to your internal reactions. Recall past situations in which you let someone go too far. How did you feel? At what point could you have put your foot down? Write it. See it. Say it. And put it into action.
2. Eliminate toxic relationships.
Empower yourself by letting go of individuals and partnerships that drain your energy and stifle your growth. If discussions and collaborations are unhealthy, it’s time to move on. While the split may be painful initially, you will flourish once you’re free of those influences.
Simply begin by declining meetings, limiting conversations, engaging in other activities of interest, and cultivating new relationships. You don’t have to make a grand announcement or hold a forum. Let your actions speak for you. You’ll build self-esteem and confidence, which will attract individuals who will treat you with the respect you deserve.
3. Think on purpose.
As you become more assertive, you’ll need a strategy to deal with individuals who overstep your boundaries. Maintain a calm demeanor for effective communication even if they become defensive. The individual may feel as if they’re under attack, especially if you haven’t taken them to task before. In this situation, they will likely try to derail you by changing the subject. Use the ASSA method to keep discussions on topic and to the point:
Alert the person that you would like to speak with them.
State your grievance clearly and calmly.
Sell the benefits of them altering their behavior.
Agree that they’ll do things differently in the future.
You’ll likely find that becoming assertive will change your life. You’ll gain the confidence needed to develop beneficial relationships with colleagues, partners, and your management team. And you’ll attract opportunities that facilitate personal and professional success.
For tips to “Get Rid of Misperceptions about Success,” check out this video below.
Adrean Turner is an author, certified career coach, speaker, professional development trainer, and business consultant. She leverages 23 years of experience in management, marketing, operations, teaching, and training to partner with individuals, entrepreneurs, and organizations to achieve their maximum potential. For more information and inspiration from Adrean, read her book F.I.T. for Success: Fearless, Inspired, Transformed for Success. You can follow Adrean on Twitter @coachADREAN, on Facebook @coachadrean, on Instagram @coachadrean, and on YouTube @CoachAdrean.