Assertiveness at work may be associated by some with an attempt to avoid certain professional duties or a conflict in the workplace. However, assertive attitude is a way of expressing your own opinions and beliefs, and its aim is to signalize that a given employee does not agree with a particular decision of the supervisor or with the principles executed in the company. How the employer reacts to an opposite opinion of an employee depends largely on the organizational structure of the company. If the company values individuality of its employees and factors in their opinions in the decision making process, then an assertive attitude will be most welcome. By expressing their own opinions, the employees take an active part in the development of the company’s vision.
The key to success with the assertive attitude is the ability to express one’s own opinions in such a way, that the supervisors and co-workers realize that a given employee also takes care of the company’s good. An accurate arguments to support the objections will certainly help an employee to express the opinion on issues relevant to the company.
One of the basic principles of assertiveness is the right to say ‘no’ without excuses and intricate arguments – explains Agnieszka Kręblewska, HR specialist. However, if we are bound by the contract to do certain tasks, a refusal without an appropriate arguments might be risky. One has to remember, that fulfilling professional duties is not only a matter of our good will, but most of all a commitment written down in an agreement, which is the fundament of the employment relationship. If you refuse in such a situation, you should have a strong case, because otherwise such action could be very costly and in extreme cases, lead to job loss.
How to be assertive?
It is worth remembering that a risk of losing one’s job because of an assertive attitude is small. More and more companies appreciate the individual opinions of the employees.
Assertiveness is not only an art of saying “no”, it’s also the ability to express your own opinions, beliefs and constructive criticism. But there has to be some space for such behaviour, created by supervisors, characterized by partnership, openness and respect - highlights Agnieszka Kręblewska.
Assertive attitude will bring results only if the person feels confident of his/her opinions. Everyone should think carefully about the way of expressing their opinion before they actually do it.
The first issue to consider is the abovementioned argument. An objections to the decision will be seriously considered only if there is a valid justification. The basic assumption of assertiveness is expressing one’s own views. Presenting a thought out argument is a perfect opportunity to do that. Moreover, the supervisors could see the issue from a different point of view.
You should also remember that assertiveness does not contradict the idea of community in the company and loyalty to it. An employee who doesn’t agree with the decision of a supervisor should present an alternative solution. A sole objection could be perceived as a revolt in defense of vested interests. Suggesting an alternative is a proof of the employee’s care of the company and an attempt to find another way of the situation. “That is my view, I suggest…” and “Maybe we could find a solution to please us both…” are the examples of the phrases which will allow the employee to disagree with the presented solution and suggest a joint solution to the problem.
Assertiveness pays off
Assertiveness at work may bring positive results. First of all, a possibility to express their own opinions will positively affect employees’ feeling of belonging to the company. Tolerating of the assertive behaviour among the employees by the supervisors will also result in a positive working atmosphere. The ability and possibility of showing an assertive behaviour greatly improves our mental comfort – says Agnieszka Kręblewska. Therefore, if employees have such possibility, then we can talk about the first benefit of having satisfied people in the organization. Working in such conditions usually gives people a sense of accomplishment, co-determination and influence. As a result, their psychic cost is low, or to put it simple – they are less frustrated. Low stress level allows for a greater commitment and an increase in effectiveness – she adds.
Assertiveness is becoming an increasingly desirable trait in employees. Employers are beginning to appreciate individualism and self-reliance. Assertiveness is also an expression of directness and ability to express oneself. An employee in many cases becomes a person codeciding about the fate of the company. People unable to express their own opinions may have serious problems with finding their place in this kind of business reality.
In corporations, the role of managers who can wisely use the knowledge and qualifications of the employees rises – notes Agnieszka Kręblewska. Substantive knowledge is dispersed throughout the organization, so the decision-making process should involve all employees. Where the co-deciding, the exchange of knowledge and critical analysis replace imposing decisions and controlling their execution, there’s no place for people who have problems with assertiveness – she explains.