Many of us shy away from expressing ourselves openly at work. We may fear that we could come across as too aggressive, or we worry that we may overstep a boundary with our colleagues or boss. Or we may be concerned about not being able to get across what we want to say in a clear and effective way.
Avoiding conflict and keeping thoughts, feelings and emotions bottled-up can do us more harm than good. While keeping quiet may feel like a safe move, in the long term not communicating openly can cause anxiety and stress.
The good news is that developing a more assertive communication style can help reduce stress at work. Assertive communication is different from aggressive communication: it is about getting your message across in a considered, honest and diplomatic manner.
1. Assertiveness boosts self-respect
Communicating assertively involves having mutual respect for yourself and the person you are communicating with. When we clearly communicate our needs to others, we develop greater respect for ourselves. Over time, assertive communication also helps us to earn respect from others.
2. Assertiveness helps resolve inner conflict
When we don’t stand up for ourselves or ask for what we want, we can be left with a feeling of resentment or stress. Always going with the flow to please others, or saying “yes” when you really want to say “no” creates inner conflict because you are constantly putting the needs of other people first.
While sometimes putting others first is necessary, it is also healthy to express your genuine needs from time to time. Assertiveness helps break through patterns of people pleasing to resolve this inner conflict.
3. Assertiveness creates honest relationships
Learning how to clearly communicate and speak up for yourself helps the people you work with understand you better. When you can express yourself in a truthful, simple and direct way, you open the doorway for more direct and honest communication.
Building assertiveness gradually
As with anything in life, developing assertiveness takes practice and courage.
To develop your assertiveness muscles, try starting small with something relatively minor that has been bothering you. Then, try this.
First, write down what you want to say. Use “I” statements to let the other person what you want to say without accusing them of wrongdoing.
Second, consider and acknowledge why communicating what you want to say is important. This may include how you will regret it if you don’t communicate.
Third, rehearse. Being assertive can be hard at first, so practice keeping your emotions in check and standing your ground as calmly as you can.
Finally, commit to it, then go for it!
Afterwards take a moment to reflect on the experience. How was it? Was it worse than you feared? Chances are it felt good to express yourself.
Finding and keeping the best people to work for you is not always about money. Instead of paying people more money how about paying them in more free time?
In offices all over the country people are clocking in and out at the same time every day, but is this the most efficient way to do things? What if you only expected your teams to stay as long as necessary to get the job done? Early evidence suggests this leads to staff that are happier, work faster and quality of work actually improves.
Before declaring staff free to leave when they feel they are done for the day, or maybe even the week make sure the right conditions are in place.
Is it feasible for staff to leave early some days and expect them to stay late on others? If you're requiring people to serve customers it's not going to work. If you have team members who need to leave by a set time each day for caring or other commitments, set hours may work best for them.
Do you have clear reasonable work plans for people? This is a key tool for managing this type of working arrangement. It should clearly show who is responsible for what and when it needs to be done by.
A strong work ethic across the whole team. This approach whilst freeing people to potentially more free time also holds them to account. This is especially the case when people are working on tasks in teams.
For staff, this can give them time to do whatever it is that inspires them outside the office. For many of us what pays the bills isn’t always what inspires. If you are able to give staff the time to do this you can rest assured you are moving towards employer of choice status.
For you, there are also a few upsides you’re likely to see. Less time spent on social media, a greater focus on getting things done, no more endless meetings, better planning and best of all you may find yourself hitting deadlines early.
Written By One Of Our Clients
It all started with the realisation that we weren't quite so young anymore, seemed to have missed the homeowner's boat and that “catching up” would require most of our days spent apart and our daughter being cared for by someone else. Even then it was unlikely we would “catch up”.
So discussions were had, plans were made and teary goodbyes said. Then 12 months ago we (two 35-year-olds and a toddler) set off on our version of a gap year. A year into our adventure I am taking a moment to ask was it worth it? Did we get the break we were looking for?
Now to be fair it's not so much a gap year as it's been moving to Cambodia. My husband and I both work but less than we used to. The daily commute has dropped from 60 to 5 minutes. My daughter does go to childcare but instead of being in a centre with 30 plus kids she spends her mornings playing with nine others in the most amazing space and then heads home for a nap in her own bed. We aren’t hopping from one exotic location to another but we have managed a few beach holidays and found an amazing place by the river to escape to on weekends.
Do we miss the comforts of home? Not so much. Do we miss our families? Of course. But Skype, FaceTime, Viber and the odd cheap flight keep us all connected. Our family gap year will definitely stretch into two years. We have gained so much from this experience. We spend more time together, are taking on new challenges, changing our mindset, being brave enough to change our opinions and most of all slowing down. I would like to say slowing down to smell the roses but Phnom Penh doesn’t often smell of roses or anything similar. It is probably also worth noting that having a toddler who can say no in three languages just adds an extra layer of pain when it comes to tantrums but we wouldn’t change anything.
Constant traveling has never appealed to us but spending time in new places does. So for us, the family gap year is the perfect solution. You just need to set yourself up so it can work for you.
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