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How assertive are you?

Achieving the right level of assertive behaviour can sometimes feel less than easy. People often walk a thin line to get the balance right. Aiming for an optimum level of assertiveness is key. Take an overly strong approach and it can all too often result in you being perceived as too aggressive, arrogant or bullying, damaging your relationships and generally being counterproductive . Opt for a more low key approach and you could communicate a far too passive message, failing to get what you want and running the risk of appearing to be a pushover. So how can you strike the right balance?

Assertiveness audit

To fully appreciate your current level of assertiveness and understand which aspects of your assertiveness skills require improvement, it’s essential to accurately evaluate your level of assertiveness. The most effective way to complete an assertiveness evaluation is by using both self-assessment – our how assertive are you? inventory is a great place to start – and also asking others for their feedback. Aim for a 360 degree assessment to provide you with the maximum amount of information about your assertiveness skills.

Track your assertive style with a journal

Try keeping an assertiveness journal over a two week period. Note the times when you entered into discussion or negotiation at work or at home. Identify what you hoped to achieve from each interaction and then assess how successful you were in gaining your desired outcome. Specifically recall:

  1. What techniques did you use to persuade?
  2. What emotions did you notice coming to the fore during each interaction?
  3. Would you describe yourself as easily able to control any strong emotions that occurred or did you struggle to remain calm?
  4. How did your ability to control emotions affect the outcome of your interaction?
  5. If you found yourself wishing that your discussion had ended differently, was this because you or the other person was unhappy with the way thing were discussed or the outcome? Did you find yourself dwelling on the outcome?
  6. Take a good look through your journal after two weeks, do you notice any triggers that commonly lead you to behave in a particular way? Are themes and patterns emerging from your journal? If you’re not sure, ask a trusted friend to take a look at your journal and have an honest discussion with you about what they notice.
  7. Would you classify your predominant style as assertive, aggressive, passive or aggressive?

Set goals to keep you on an assertive track

The next step is to set yourself some key assertiveness goals to boost your skills in the areas requiring work.

  1. Start by setting yourself some easy wins. to begin with, choose goals that will challenge you but won’t be too intimidating.
  2. Take a step by step approach to build confidence and develop your skills. Give yourself specific goals to be achieved within a dedicated timeframe. Your audit may have highlighted the feeling that you often struggle to be heard by others and feel your views are ignored. Using this information to plan what you want to say in future discussions and how you want to say your piece can help you form your next assertiveness goal.
  3. Work your way up to the more challenging assertiveness goals. Remember that assertiveness needs to be practiced to achieve effective results. When you feel ready to flex your assertiveness skills go head to head with your bigger assertiveness challenges.
  4. Remember, when situations don’t go to plan, they provide you with essential information for improving your future performance. View less successful interactions as your route to assertive mastery, analyse each situation to establish where things went wrong and establish what can be done differently next time.
  5. Go for it!

Like to find out more? Check out our free resources section.

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