3 Simple Frameworks To Be More Assertive At Work Suman July 11, 2023

3 Simple Frameworks To Be More Assertive At Work

“You can and should set your own limits and clearly articulate them. This takes courage, but it is also liberating and empowering, and often earns you new respect.”

– Rosalind Brewer (COO & Group President of Starbucks)

Setting limits and communicating them respectfully helps women grow faster. And assertive skills are necessary to be able to do this.

Many working professionals accept work beyond their capability to work.

Sometimes you have 2-3 tasks daily, and your manager gives you 2 additional tasks to complete by EOD.

Does it happen to you?

You want to learn, so you take the challenge head-on. Well, it comes with lots of effort and mental fatigue.

I would suggest being assertive in these situations can help. You can respectfully disagree or say no, and ask for what you want.

In this post, I am going to take you through why women are assertive and how to say no in 3 easy ways. We will also look at the difference between assertive and aggressive to make sure we respect the limits.

Why do women feel unassertive 

Women often hold themselves back, stretch the boundaries, put themselves before everybody, and accept any odds in their lives.

For women, being unassertive comes with the fear of rejection, past experiences, and societal expectations. Here are some reasons why women feel a certain way.

What if people don’t like me?

What if people feel bad?

I don’t want to say no.

I’m not confident enough (conditioning)

What if I don’t fit into the team?

My conditioning teaches me to be quiet.

What If I’m not asked for future projects?

My boss might take it otherwise.

It’s better to just put up with it.

And, research shows that being unassertive leads to:

  • Stress
  • Resentment
  • Seething anger
  • Feelings of victimization
  • Desire to exact revenge
  • Doubting or questioning our own judgment

READ MORE: Why reasons why communication is important for women

Don’t confuse assertive with aggressive

When we talk to people about being assertive, they confuse this term with aggression, domination, and intimidation.

But confidently expressing oneself while respecting others’ views is a life skill; not aggression.

Loud and insulting is aggression.

Calm and respectful is assertion.

The Best strategy to become assertive

If people think of you as a confident, assertive person they’ll take you seriously.

And that comes by creating a strong personal brand.

It will help your assertion to be accepted by juniors, team members, and senior management.

Building a strong brand for yourself can add value to your profession. A firm yet polite tone and confident body language can make your assertion accepted.

WATCH: Video series: How to power up your virtual communication

3 Effective Ways to say NO:

1. Don’t over-explain

The more you explain, the more defensive you sound.

The longer your story, the weaker your reasons seem.

So keep it as short as  possible!

“I’m sorry but I have another meeting at the same time”

“I’d love to help but I am a bit tied up right now”

Don’t jump into the specifics trying to convince someone of your reasons to say no.

2. Suggest an alternative

For instance, I’d love to do this however in some time (or a day later)

Or you can refer the persona to YouTube or other relevant resources

Or point them to someone more eligible for the task.

Saying direct no without giving a reason depicts your passive behavior. Reasoning can make it assertive.

3. Use the sandwich method

Start with a positive, add the reason for no and end with positive intent.

It works like a charm

For instance, I’d love to do this for you, however I am tied up with the other project at the moment. How about we collaborate later this month?

READ MORE: 8 communication blunders to avoid

Some more tips

Here are a few more tips to really get assertive:

1. Watch your tone

Even if you say the right thing and your tone is rude, nobody is going to accept you or listen to your decision.

Work on your tone; as we discussed, being assertive doesn’t mean you have to be rude or aggressive.

2. Practice saying no

When you don’t believe that you have the authority then you hesitate in saying NO. Start practicing saying no, believing that you have the right to say it.

3. Replace- “I don’t” with “I can’t”

Give a reason why can’t you contribute to that project.

4. Use “I” language rather than “You”

For example, rather than saying “You need to stop interrupting me,” say “I would appreciate it if you could let me finish my thought.”

5. Don’t use the fillers like “I think” or “I feel”

It can make you sound under confident about your decision.

To flourish in your personal and professional life you need to develop this as your default communication style.

Once, Oprah Winfrey said, “Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility.”

So, don’t be afraid to choose your path & put across your point respectfully. Empower yourself with assertive skills in every aspect of your life.

If you wish to work on your assertive skills, let’s talk