ONE of the skills that effective managers have is to act assertively at the appropriate time.
Being aggressive or submissive are not good options to take. Be assertive instead. Here are some tips on how to achieve this:
1. Decide when you need to be assertive
When an outcome is at stake, it may be a good time to decide to act assertively. You don’t always need to be assertive all the time. Know what outcome you are seeking and decide if the outcome is worth being assertive for.
2. Adopt a clear stand on your position
Indicate your intent and state what your views are on the situation or topic. Remain firm, but stay friendly.
3. Don’t be distracted
Refuse to be sidetracked, calmly state what you desire and repeat your position as often as you consider necessary. Don’t get drawn into an argument.
4. Be attentive and affirmative
Paying attention to what the other person is saying shows that you are listening to understand his position. Showing an appreciation of what the other person is saying makes the person feel that his opinions are valued. And giving affirmation shows the other party that you understand their viewpoint.
5. Accept criticism
When the other person attacks you, do not go on the defensive. Let him speak, but do not allow his remarks upset you. When emotions are high, logic is low.
Listen carefully to what the other person is saying. If, for example, he says that the report you handed in had missing information, you can respond with: “I’m sorry to hear that. I tried to make it as comprehensive as possible.”
6. Examine the criticism
Ask questions to clarify what exactly the criticism is about. Ask, “What information has not been included?” Ask in a conversational tone. Do not engage in a yelling match or put down the other person. Simply say: “Thanks for sharing your views, let me explain further.”
You have absorbed the other person’s feedback. It is now your turn to say how you feel, what you think and the way you see the situation.
For example, you can respond to a particular comment made by the other person. You can say: “When you raise your voice and make comments about my report being incomplete, it upsets me because you have made no attempt to understand why the information was not included. You assume that the omission was due to my incompetence...”
8. Reach a compromise or agreement
Where necessary, come to an agreement on a workable compromise or solution. Make it very clear to all parties concerned what the follow-up actions should be.
For example, if the criticism about your report has no basis, ask the other person to affirm this in black and white to avoid further confusion. As a gesture of goodwill, you can offer to update him on the areas not covered in your report anyway. Be gracious when you are vindicated. You want to acquire a reputation for assertiveness, not arrogance.