You already know that communication is the cornerstone of any successful team or business. Your ability to connect with and motivate your employees is what helps drive results and boost productivity.
But—as you also already know—communicating effectively isn't always easy. Especially when you need to address issues or push back on unrealistic requests.
That’s why developing this leadership quality is important. When you're assertive, you're able to express yourself in a confident, constructive way—without being aggressive or passive.
So, what exactly is assertive communication?
Assertive communication is the ability to express your needs and opinions with confidence, while still respecting others. It's a key skill for any manager to develop.
You need to communicate clearly and directly daily.
For example, instead of being passive and saying,"I don't mind what we decide" or aggressive by saying "That's an awful idea!", try being assertive and say "I see where you are coming from, but I think this is the best option. What do you think?"
Assertive communication builds trust and understanding. Your team will appreciate knowing where they stand and what is expected of them. Communication works both ways, so assertive communication also means actively listening to others and taking their needs into account.
Look for compromise and common ground. Say things like:
- "I understand your perspective. My view is..."
- "Let's find a solution we all agree on."
- "What do you need to feel supported?"
With the right mindset and consistent effort, you'll be communicating assertively and empowering your team in no time.
The benefits of assertive communication
Being assertive has major benefits. It can increase your self-esteem and credibility, reduce stress and anxiety, and help you support your team. It lets your employees know you value their input, but that you're also willing to make tough decisions. Your team will appreciate your transparency and fairness.
Being assertive can also lead to less trouble assigning tasks and trusting your teams. By giving clear directions and reasonable deadlines, you can step back and let others work independently. This reduces micromanagement and gives your employees a chance to develop their skills.
Lastly, being assertive can earn you the admiration of others. When you give helpful feedback, set boundaries, and make your needs known politely, your team feels heard and supported, leading to better teamwork and job satisfaction.
Now that you understand the benefits, it's time to start building your assertiveness skills.
How to develop your assertiveness
Start by assessing your current communication style. Are you passive, aggressive, or somewhere in between? Then, find any behaviours you want to change.
Three tips that can help you build your assertiveness are:
- Use confident body language. Stand up straight, make eye contact, and speak clearly. Your nonverbal communication should align with your message.
- State your needs directly. Speak honestly but politely about what you want and expect while also listening to others.
- Set boundaries. Don’t feel that you have to please everyone or be available 24/7. Be selective about how you spend your time and energy. Politely but firmly tell others when they’ve overstepped.
Remember, assertiveness is a balancing act. You want to be able to stand up for yourself while also respecting others.
Achieving this balance will allow you to have more constructive conversations where you can share your perspective confidently yet tactfully.
Assertiveness techniques for effective communication
Effective communication is essential in today's fast-paced work environment. By utilising assertive communication techniques, you can improve your communication skills and become a more effective leader.
Key techniques to practice include:
- Using "I" statements. Say "I feel" or "I believe" instead of "you". This allows others to understand your view without feeling attacked. For example, say "I feel frustrated when reports are late" instead of, “You always submit reports late."
- Role-playing. Acting out different scenarios helps build assertiveness skills. Try role-playing exercises with your team to prepare for challenging conversations. Discuss how different approaches can lead to different outcomes.
- Staying calm and collected. Don’t get aggressive or emotional. Express yourself in a confident manner and take deep breaths to stay calm if you feel yourself getting worked up.
- Focusing on specific behaviours. Address specific actions and behaviours, not personal attacks. Explain how certain behaviours make you feel and suggest alternative approaches. For example, say "Sending your work for review last-minute makes it hard for me to prioritise my time" instead of, "You always dump your work for review on me at the last second."
- Listening actively. Listen carefully to other opinions and be open to feedback. Make eye contact, give verbal and nonverbal cues that you are listening, and ask questions.
- Being flexible. While it’s essential to be assertive, it’s equally important to be open to other views and find solutions that help everyone. Refusing to consider alternative options and opinions can damage work relationships and team dynamics.
With regular practice of these techniques, you can become a confident communicator, and be able to express your needs while also building a united team environment. Effective communication is key to success in any leadership role.
Developing these skills won't happen overnight, but practice makes perfect and before you know it, your whole team will be reaping the rewards of this powerful ability.
Why not get started today?
Start your essential learning journey with BrightLearn our free learning management system that has an e-learning course on when to be assertive, that you can take yourself or assign to your managers.
By taking an assertive skills training course to strengthen your assertiveness you can become a better leader for your employees.
It’s ready and waiting for you to transform your communication style today.