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Standing up for yourself can be difficult, especially in the workplace. Not everyone is born with assertiveness—sometimes it needs to be developed. To be clear, being assertive does not mean being confrontational. It’s about letting those around you know that you are as valuable and important as the next guy, that you’re not a doormat.

Assertiveness is a behavioral style of communication in which a person expresses his or her thoughts, feelings, wants and needs in a clear, direct and honest manner while respecting the rights and needs of others. Basically, it’s saying what you need to say respectfully. This can be very difficult for some people who get emotional. Those who avoid confrontation are more passive in their approach to things, hoping the problem will go away or that they won’t have to say something.

When you are trying to build relationships, negotiate tasks and responsibilities, or work together with others in a variety of settings, assertiveness is an important skill. Once you get the hang of it, asserting yourself can help you:

• Communicate better

• Gain confidence

• Make decisions

• Gain other people’s respect

• Stay true to your beliefs and goals

If you are dissatisfied with the personal and professional outcomes in your life, you may need to be more assertive. If you’re walking away from too many interactions and conversations saying, “I shoulda said this,” “Why did I let that get away from me?”, “Another meeting where so-and-so stole my idea” or “I got dumped on again,” frequently it has to do with communication. The ability to say no and be respected is tremendous.

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Plan Your Way to Success

If you want to take a trial run at assertiveness, try these tips the next time you are in a situation where you need to be honest about your feelings or needs:

• Know what outcome you want to achieve.

• Pick a moment when you are emotionally in control.

• Practice what you want to say ahead of time.


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