How to Be More Assertive at Work?

Being assertive at work is not something everyone knows. Dealing with demanding situations from superiors, peer pressures, and gossips, navigating corporate politics and employee conflicts with a level-headed approach and calm demeanor is not always easy, even for those who take things in their stride. You need to build tremendous strength at the core. Most times, people tend to mince assertiveness with aggressive and passive behaviours at work.

Holding onto their style of functioning and egoistic tantrums, most employees tend to stick by the extremes of either being overly aggressive in their behaviours or judge others with a passive cold-shouldered approach.

While both of these extremes do help wriggle out of complicated situations in daily life, you tend to hurt emotional sentiments along the way with your rather insensitive approach to only affect your personal credibility and goodwill. As with all cases, moderation is the key and herein, being assertive is the pathway to build credibility and maintain amicable pleasant relationships with all.

Being unable to speak up and clearly state your point during conflicts or holding back can only have long-lasting negative consequences to impede career progression in the long run. On the other hand, being aggressive with teammates can make you seem to dominate, fuel conflicts between co-workers to come across as brash and abrasive.

Your aggressiveness could act as an impediment to your personal growth endeavours since not all people are the same. Aggression is generally associated with disrespect towards superiors, colleagues, and customers. To showcase confidence, you do not have to be aggressive. You can observe assertiveness to communicate the message with a better impact. So learn to mellow down and take charge of your emotional outbursts and temperaments.


Here’s how you can practice assertiveness at work:


  1. No matter the amount of experience you possess, there will always be demanding situations at work when no rule book comes to rescue. Practice clear communication, understand the objective of communication, use simple words to convey the message with a purpose. Do not mince words and gauge the impact of your statements, before you speak up.
  2. Just because you are a team leader gives you no authority or sense of power to demean members of your team and act bossy. Raising the decibels of your voice and change of tonality needn’t necessarily work in your favor everywhere. Instead of commanding respect, learn to earn it by using assertiveness and show respect towards others by treating them as you would like to be treated. This is the first sign of a real leader.
  3. Know and learn to respect people’s boundaries. Respecting personal boundaries is one of the first ways to reduce stress and frustration at work, so stay off commenting or passing negative remarks and opinions upfront or behind the back. Do not speak out of turn and when unasked for. Do not jump into occasions with your suggestions, to only showcase your self-pride.
  4. Set realistic expectations and be mindful of your limitations, capacities and do not take in more work than you can accomplish. Do not over commit and under deliver. Stand by your words and lead by an example. Do not be more of a preacher and less of a doer.
  5. Always be open to listening first, instead of waiting for your turn to speak up. Practice empathy every day and do not buy into criticisms. Always know your self-worth and make sure your contributions are duly recognized in the workplace.
  6. Educate yourself on the rights you’re entitled to in the workplace. In case you are not aware, ask and learn. Stay humble and open to new learning experiences.
  7. Even if you are tied up with looming deadlines, this is no real excuse to speak harsh and use abusive language with your colleagues and team members. Practice politesse mannerisms and courtesy at work, to respond with a “Thank you,” and “Sorry” as need be.


Despite enough practice and mind training, we do stumble upon difficult conversations at work that can get us on our nerves and make lose temper – it’s okay, we all falter. Do not be too hard on yourself and push yourself to limits to become someone unreal and fake.

Being assertive needs constant mind training to be in better control of your senses, emotions, and responses, to make the right choice of words, gauge the need and impact of your response to observe tactful approaches and create win-win situations at work.


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