Assertiveness is the ability to be aware of your personal strength, advocate your point of view, and take responsibility for your actions. It is this trait that allows business pros to find the perfect balance between being the overly aggressive used-car dealer stereotype and being introverted, too polite, and easily persuaded.
Being assertive will show people they need to take you seriously and ward off those who seek to take advantage of you. It will increase the level of respect you receive and build trust with the people you work with. Here are three things to keep in mind in your effort to become more assertive and get more of what you want.
1. Be direct. Avoid beating around the bush and address matters head on. Ask clear, to-the-point questions to get the information you need. Avoid constantly polling others on every minute detail of every matter and get used to making decisions. This will demonstrate to others that you are self-assured and driven. Also, use the first-person singular to assert yourself and take responsibility for your opinions and actions.
2. Take criticism with grace. Part of assertiveness is being able to admit you are fallible and that there is room for improvement. Instead of viewing constructive criticism as an attack, try to view it as helpful advice you can use to your advantage. Ask how you can better yourself and apply yourself to making changes.
3. Always respect others. Many people confuse being assertive with being aggressive. However, these words mean very different things. Aggression is a demanding, and sometimes even hostile, behavior that may encroach upon the rights of others to succeed. As an assertive businessperson, you should always be contending for your own wants and needs but in an intelligent and nonconfrontational manner.
Center of Negotiation at Copenhagen Business School
Want to improve the way you run your business? Entrepreneurs, academics, and consultants from diverse industries offer practical advice on a variety of topics each business day.
To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you're not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.