Communicating Effectively: How to be Assertive and Confident at Work

November 21, 2018 adminmj

Communication!  The life-blood of all relationships at home and at work, and yet so often we struggle to get it right.

The model of effective communication is simple enough.

A sender conveys a message through a medium (phone, chat, email, social media) to a receiver who understands what the sender is saying and provides feedback.  Simple?  No.  Not ever. Often things go awry, the receiver doesn’t understand the meaning of the message and it goes downhill from there.

What goes wrong with Communication at work? 

There are so many factors that make communication ineffective at work – consider these:

  • You’re not interested in the person sending the message or the message itself
  • Physical factors – fatigue, hunger, aches, pains, feeling unwell
  • Misunderstandings because the message is unclear, or the communication is misinterpreted
  • Feelings of bad vibes towards the person or general dysfunction in a team, for example
  • Philosophically, you don’t agree with them
  • Busy people often don’t spend time listening to each other
  • Cultural or religious backgrounds
  • Lack of willingness to do the hardest thing of all – actively listen to the message

Different types of communication at work

There are various ways to communicate at work (anywhere, in fact) that often dictate whether the outcome of a communication or discussion is productive or not. And for leaders and managers, it is critical to communicate effectively as it’s a key aspect of influencing the troops.

Passive behaviour – often we take on board what others say or communicate to us, without putting our view point across.  When a person thinks their opinion appears to be less important than others (according to the individual), often they’ll walk away from a workplace conflict or challenging situation frustrated and angry.  Mostly at themselves for not standing up for what they believe in.

Aggressive behaviour – I win, and you lose.  The behaviour of the workplace bully, whose opinion (apparently, they believe) is more important than anybody else’s.  Their tactics generally are to not to listen to others, talk over them and dominate most conversations, team meetings and outings.  Generally, they are horrible to work with and can have a very deflating and distressing effect on teams.  It’s worse when the bully who displays the aggressive behaviour is the boss as people under this leader often feel they have nowhere to go when things get tough.  And they’re right.

Assertive communication – this is the person who values what contribution they bring to the table and have their say, calmly.   They believe that they, and their opinion, matter.

Assertive communication increases feeling empowered

People who are assertive and have good communication skills tend to have more confidence in themselves, they feel more able to get their message across and are often taken more seriously by others because they communicate effectively and well. In short, communicating effectively leads to people feeling more empowered and in control of their careers and working life. They see themselves as valuable contributors at work and people value them.

Communicating assertively and confidently is a key characteristic of exemplary leaders

A good leader knows how to use assertiveness to gain respect and authority, without alienating any members of the group or anyone outside the group.

Like many leadership skills, assertiveness is something that can be learned and maintained with regular practice.

Source:  http://www.leadershipexpert.co.uk/importance-assertive-leadership.html

5 tips to communicate effectively and be assertive at Work

  1. Stay calm in any situation.  If you are in a team meeting and things are getting heated, for example, don’t be aggressive or passive.  Merely mention that things will not be resolved in this way and suggest the issue is kept for later, or for another meeting, or reschedule the meeting when emotions have died down.
  2. Think about what you want to say and the message you want to convey before you do so, particularly if you feel you don’t communicate as well as you can all the time.  Write down your thoughts on a piece of paper before the meeting to make sure you raise all the items you want to discuss in the meeting or situation.
  3. Learn the formula to be assertive and use it.  It’s used around the world and is called the I statement, and it looks like this:
    1. The event:  When you speak to me like that….
    2. The response:  I feel very undervalued as a team member
    3. Preferred outcome:  So, could you please speak calmly to me in meetings
    4. Future expectations:  Moving forward I would like us to have calm meetings that are productive
  4. Stand up for yourself and stand your ground.  If somebody is saying something you don’t agree with, say ‘thanks for your opinion, but I disagree’ and then give the reason.  If they try and turn your perspective around, politely thank them for their idea but say ‘I still stick with what I believe.’
  5. Be polite.  Assertive people don’t get angry and shout and scream.  They hold onto their emotions and manage the situation well, leaving them in control of the communication and not others.

Effective communication and being assertive is not a nice to have, it’s a critical to have in all our relationships and at work even more so, where people sit on different levels in an Organisation.  The best performers are people who listen to others, take their opinions on board and express their perspective in a collaborative and meaningful way.  Not easy to do, but a skill to learn.

Pure Magic International Business Solutions is an award-winning company, passionate about helping clients achieve strategic business outcomes by providing innovative leadership, management and people development strategies and techniques at all levels and by using a range of easy to implement OD and HR strategies.  To find out more, head to www.puremagicbusiness.com.au

If you’d like to discuss any concerns or ideas you have about leadership, why not book a free discussion on https://my.timetrade.com/book/QGY21 today?

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