How to Be More Assertive at Work Without Being Aggressive

Have your voice heard, reduce communication errors, and reach your goals by becoming more assertive at work. Use these strategies to learn how.

Nearly eight in ten young people believe that they have missed out on work opportunities because they’ve lacked assertiveness.

This statistic is more than just a mere number. It represents a common barrier that many individuals face, hindering their professional growth and success.

If you’ve ever found yourself in situations where you feel people undervalue your contributions undervalued, it’s time to make a change. To help you out, we’ve written a guide that explains how to be assertive at work.

Read on if you want to equip yourself with the tools and strategies to confidently express your opinions, advocate for your needs, and establish your presence in the professional world.

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What Does Assertiveness Mean?

Assertiveness is a communication skill that involves expressing one’s thoughts, feelings, and needs. Those who are assertive know how to do this in an open, honest, and direct manner.

It means standing up for oneself while respecting the rights and beliefs of others. Being assertive isn’t about being aggressive or domineering.

Rather, it’s about maintaining a balanced interaction where all parties feel heard and respected. It’s a skill that not only enhances relationships but also contributes to self-confidence and effective decision-making.

Recognize Your Value

Knowing your worth is the foundation of assertiveness. Recognize that your contributions matter, whether you’re in an entry-level position or a senior role.

You bring unique talents, experiences, and perspectives to the table. Even students with flexible college jobs have valuable insights to offer.

Acknowledge your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. This recognition fuels your self-confidence and gives you the courage to be more assertive.

Related Read: How to Build Self-Esteem: 12 Tips for Increasing Self-Worth & Self-Regard

Build Confidence

The first thing you will need to do to become more assertive is to start building confidence. It can take time to do this. Here are the most important steps that you’ll need to take.

Start Small

Confidence isn’t something that you can suddenly switch on like a light. It’s more like a muscle that needs to be built up over time.

The best way to start is to set small, achievable goals for yourself. This might include speaking up in a meeting once a week or volunteering to lead a small project at work.

These small actions give you a chance to practice how to be assertive at work without feeling overwhelmed.

How to Start Small

One of the top productivity tips for starting small is to make a list of simple actions you can take each week to be more assertive.

This might include giving your opinion in a meeting or making a suggestion for a change in your team’s process. As you complete these tasks, you will gradually build your assertiveness muscle.

Celebrate Successes

Every time you achieve one of your small goals, take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate it. Positive reinforcement can significantly boost your confidence and motivate you to take on larger tasks. Though you might not be naturally assertive, this will help boost your confidence to help you feel empowered and build healthy assertiveness skills over time.

Fake It Till You Make It

This classic mantra holds a lot of truth. Even if you don’t feel confident, acting as if you are can influence how others perceive you and can eventually lead to genuine self-confidence.

Practice Every Day

Assertiveness, like any other skill, improves with practice. Make it a daily goal to practice your communication skills, whether that’s speaking up more, asking questions, or advocating for your ideas.

Be Self-Reflective

Reflect on your actions and interactions each day. This will help you understand where you succeeded in being assertive and where you can improve.

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Know Your Boundaries

Setting boundaries is a critical aspect of assertiveness. It involves understanding your limits in terms of workload, responsibilities, and even personal space.

Once you know your boundaries, you need to communicate them effectively. This might mean saying no to extra work when you’re already overwhelmed or requesting that colleagues respect your personal space.

Project Confidence

Once you start feeling more confident, it will be time for you to project your confidence. Here are the best ways to do this.

Speak Up

One of the most significant steps in learning how to become more assertive in the workplace is finding your voice. Speaking up about your ideas and opinions demonstrates self-assuredness. This can lead to more respect from your colleagues.

Saying No

You can’t do everything. Learning to say no when you’re overwhelmed or when something doesn’t align with your priorities is a crucial part of being assertive. It communicates that you respect your own time and abilities.

Not Being Aggressive

Assertiveness shouldn’t be confused with aggression. It’s about communicating your needs and ideas effectively and respectfully, not about dominating the conversation or belittling others’ ideas. Aggressive behavior may appear to be assertive behavior, but it will likely also be confrontational and bullying, without the care to remain respectful and value other people’s opinions.

Go for Respect, Not Friends

It’s nice to be liked, but in a professional setting, respect is more valuable. Asserting yourself may not always make you the most popular person in the room, but it can earn you respect, which is crucial for professional growth.

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Understand Your Rights

Everyone has fundamental rights in the workplace, including the right to express their thoughts and opinions, to be treated with respect, and to have a safe and comfortable work environment.

Understanding these rights is critical in asserting yourself at work. If you ever feel these rights are being infringed upon, it’s essential to have the courage to speak up.

Become a Great Speaker

You might not believe that you are a great speaker. But with practice, it will become easier for you to express your ideas in front of others. Here are the steps that you will need to take.

Know What You Want to Say

Before you speak, take a moment to think about your main point. This helps ensure that your message is clear and effective.

Get to the Main Point

Don’t beat around the bush. Be direct and concise in your communication. This shows that you value your own time and the time of your listeners.

Practice Talking About Your Ideas

The more you practice presenting your ideas, the better you will become at it. Seek opportunities to share your thoughts, whether in meetings or casual conversations.

Make use of your presentation skills and don’t forget to maintain eye contact, which can significantly enhance your assertiveness.

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Invest in Continual Growth

Assertiveness is not a one-time achievement; it’s a skill that you continually develop throughout your career.

Invest time in reading books, attending workshops, or taking online courses about effective communication and assertiveness. Seek feedback from colleagues or mentors and be open to constructive criticism.

As you continually improve your confidence and communication skills, you’ll find it easier to assert yourself in various situations.

Benefits of Being Assertive

Becoming more assertive brings a multitude of benefits that can be transformative. Not only will you be happier in the workspace. You will also improve your personal life.

Build Self-Confidence

When you begin to voice your thoughts and stand up for your ideas, you inherently build your self-confidence. The more you practice assertiveness, the more comfortable you become with expressing your ideas.

This in turn boosts your self-esteem. This increased confidence can be a powerful tool in all aspects of life, helping you face challenges with resilience and tenacity.

Communicate Needs Effectively

Being assertive allows you to clearly and effectively communicate your needs. It helps you articulate what you want in a way that’s respectful and understanding of others’ perspectives.

This skill is crucial in both professional and personal settings, whether you’re negotiating a business deal or expressing your feelings in a relationship.

Gain More Control

Realizing that you are in control of your actions and responses is empowering.

You can’t control how others behave; assertiveness enables you to respond effectively, without feeling overwhelmed or disrespected. This understanding can help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.

Get a Promotion at Work

When you’re assertive, you demonstrate leadership qualities. You show that you can make decisions, communicate effectively, and stand up for what you believe is right.

These traits are often associated with individuals in leadership roles. By being more assertive, you increase your chances of being noticed and considered for promotions.

Improve Your Personal Life

The benefits of assertiveness extend beyond the workplace. Being assertive can help improve your personal relationships.

It allows you to express your feelings honestly and set boundaries, leading to healthier, more balanced relationships.

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How to Be Assertive

If you want to invite more opportunities into your life, it is essential to know how to be assertive. It is easier to do this than you might think.

You will first need to take time to recognize your value. Next, focus on building confidence and projecting this confidence. Lastly, develop skills to improve your speaking skills, such as by practicing assertive communication techniques.

Are you interested in joining a community that will give you the chance to demonstrate your skills, build meaningful relationships, and receive support for your personal and professional development?

If so, Goodwall can help you. We connect young people with jobs, skills, and scholarships. Don’t hesitate to join us today by downloading our app via the links below!

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Goodwall Team
Written By Goodwall Team
This article was written by the Goodwall team or by a contributor for publication on Goodwall. Goodwall is dedicated to helping students, entrepreneurs, and young professionals reach their full potential. We'll share thought-provoking and supportive articles on career advice, self-improvement, navigating the college landscape, climate action, social impact, and more. On the business side, we'll talk about SMB subjects related to community, diversity, talent acquisition, case studies, and enterprise.

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