Sunday, June 05, 2011

Are you assertive?

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“He always put one point against me and that is assertiveness. He himself does not wanted to be assertive but was expecting it from me. How I would have been successful, if I have not been assertive? I definitely was not abusing or dominating anybody. He never understood the difference between aggressiveness and assertiveness” Mr. Jamkhandikar (name changed) was sharing with me his feedback given by his senior. Mr. Jamkhandikar was a General Manager, handling one profit center.    

People always misunderstood assertiveness with aggressiveness. Aggressiveness is the passive behavior. It is dominant and arrogant behaviour and worsens issues.      

What is Assertive Behaviour?
It is a self-expression that meets three criteria:
1.      It is appropriate to the person and situation involved
2.      It respects one’s own basic human rights
3.      It respects the basic human rights of others

It is standing on own one belief and being on firm on own right without hurting anybody. Off course it is a great skill. It has to be learned and difficult to be assertive. You can be aggressive easily and most of the people choose to be aggressive because it is easy to be aggressive. They gain something but they can not be successful in longer perspective.   
Assertiveness is a characteristic of behaviour and not a person. Individuals are not born assertive. It is a collection of skills that can be learned. No one behaves assertively 100% of the time. Being an assertive person means saying what you want to say – letting others know what you think, how you feel, where you stand, and what you want. Assertiveness is a communication skill. You get the satisfaction that you have expressed yourself – registered your thoughts, feelings and opinions. You may not get what you want but it improves your probability of getting what you want.

Assertive behaviour is an option. Some managers feel guilty because they know how to be assertive but fail to respond assertively to each and every situation. They forget that assertiveness is an interpersonal skill and hence is an option. Although, it usually makes sense to use assertion, there are times when a manager chooses not to be assertive. The manager may possess the skill to act assertively in a situation but decides not to do so because he does not want to take the risks involved.

Guidelines for effective assertive behaviour
·        Use assertive body language
·        Use assertive words and verbal skills
·        Think assertively
·        Maintain self-confidence
·        Relax

Using assertive body language
Eye contact, posture, facial expression, tone of voice, hand movements and so on – can strengthen or weaken your verbal message. You may confuse the listener if your body language and your words convey different meanings. Assertion is usually communicated by direct but not steering eye contact, arms and hands loosely at sides, a relaxed upright posture and a strong, steady tone of voice.

Body language that often is interpreted as non-assertive behaviour includes looking down or away, fidgeting with hands or putting them behind back, swaying and speaking in a very soft or whiny voice. Raising a fist or pointing a finger, leaning forward or moving closer to a person and speaking in a very loud, harsh voice are frequently perceived as aggressive.

Using assertive words and verbal skills
·        Make clear and honest statements – use the first person (“I”) when expressing your own thoughts, feelings and experiences.
·        Eliminate guessing by letting employees know what you want. Offer relevant information without being asked. Take initiative to clarify your values, expectations and decisions.
·        Paraphrase what you are hearing – listen with concentration.
·        Be specific – Talk about exactly what you have observed or what you want. Don’t be generic.
·        Be positive – Talk about what you want and not about what you do not want.
·        Balance criticism with praise – It has been said that criticism should always leave the person with the feeling he has been helped. Focus praise or complements on specific strengths. – Give examples if appropriate.

Think Assertively
Your thoughts should reinforce your behaviour in assertiveness situations. If you want to be assertive but you are thinking thoughts that evoke fear or guilt about being assertive, you may defeat yourself in the process. Examine your thoughts concerning the assertive situation to see if they are realistic and useful. Having thoughts that are conducive to assertive behaviour requires practice and maintenance. Thought patterns are sometimes deep rooted and require conscious efforts for change.

Maintain self-confidence
Self-confidence is the foundation upon which a solid assertive response is built. Self-confidence leads to assertiveness and in turn assertiveness builds self-confidence.

Relax
Keep your tension level low. Tension can create defensiveness in you. It reduces the ability to listen accurately and to respond productively.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good insight. Keep it writing buddy.

Mojo said...

Interesting.

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