Being assertive is difficult to achieve especially if you are from a collective culture (mostly Asian cultures) or someone who is introvert. It takes tremendous effort and time to acquire such skills. In the global workplace, this is a skill that is essential to your success. Assertive communication is your ability to express your point of view that is honest, appropriate, direct, and respectful. It means you can clearly express opinions and thoughts even under circumstances of fear of failure or rejection. Being assertive means standing up for your own rights in a way that does not violate the rights of others. But how do you develop it? Just like any skill, it can be learned over time. And here are the 3 proven techniques to be more assertive in the workplace.
Technique # 1: Know the Assertive Bill of Rights
Yes, there is a guideline for assertive behavior. And there are 10 of them. It is written by Manuel J. Smith wrote this text called “When I say no, I feel guilty” first published in 1975. Think of it as your 10 golden commandments. Basically, it already covers what you need to do to be more assertive.
Keep in mind though, other people will also follow the same Assertive Bill of Rights. This means each and every one of us is entitled to our opinion. But stating what you stand for without destroying the opinion of others is what makes you assertive. Don’t forget that. By simply acknowledging the bill of rights, you’ve already achieved what it takes to be assertive. It is a powerful technique and can stand on its own.
Technique # 2: Broken Record Technique
This is my favorite and it works all the time. The broken record technique is another great way to develop assertiveness. As the name implies, it means you have a prepared reply that you stick to it no matter what. Think of a child, wanting something. They will repeat themselves until the parent gives in. And you can use the same type of behavior in asserting yourself. This is very helpful especially if you are to say no. Keep in mind though, when doing this technique, it is important not to say the same exact words. You’re not a child, therefore, you must rephrase whilst stick to your message. The key is to keep your verbal and non-verbal language consistent with each other. You must be calm, reasonable, and firm. And remember, you have the right to state your own wishes.
Technique # 3: Fogging Technique
Fogging is a conversation technique recommended by Manuel J Smith in his book When I Say No, I Feel Guilty. Smith provided this technique to deal with manipulative criticism in an assertive way. The Fogging technique is a way to accept criticism without letting it bring you down. A skill that teaches acceptance of manipulative criticism by calmly acknowledging to your critic the probability that there may be some truth in what was said. And yet allows you to remain your own judge of what to do. One element of the fogging technique is you don’t get defensive. You somehow do agree with any possible or actual truth in another person’s statement.
“I’m sure it is frustrating when I do that.”
“That’s true. I don’t always remember to do that.”
“You may be right. I…”
Overall, assertive communication is a lifelong skill. There are a bunch of other techniques but you can start with these three first. Especially if you are from a collective society or introvert. Exercising assertiveness is a must skill in every workplace and putting effort to achieve this will boost not only your confidence but your career as well.
King, P. (2019). The Art of Everyday Assertiveness: Speak Up. Set Boundaries. Say No. Take Back Control. Get What You Want. Publishdrive
Tuffley, D. (2014). Being Assertive: Finding the Sweet-Spot Between Passive and Aggressive. Altiora Publications
Zimmerman, C., & Luecke, R. (2010). Asserting Yourself at Work. AMA Self-Study.