Leading and managing others effectively requires you to think and act in a clear way.  It is not helpful to either ignore issues or to say what you think but in an aggressive or rude manner.  As a manager it is important that you let others know where you stand.   Follow these 8 simple steps to be ensure that you make your feelings known and get the right response.

1) Understand assertiveness

Assertive behaviour doesn’t mean being aggressive, and it certainly doesn’t mean being passive.  It is simply the ability to stand up for your rights, state your views and tackle issues head-on.

2) Understand your responsibilities

With rights come responsibilities.  It is important to recognise the rights of others, to listen to them, to acknowledge their thoughts and feelings as well as to assert your rights appropriately.

3) Know what you want

One aspect of assertive behaviour is making your opinions known (in an appropriate way!), so you must be honest with yourself about your own feelings and happy to share them with others.

4) One step at a time

Developing assertive behaviour takes time so don’t expect to be instantly assertive with everybody all the time.  Start by choosing a situation that is low risk, perhaps at home, or when out shopping.  Put your skills into practice, build your confidence and then start to use your new assertive behaviour in more challenging situations.

5) Understand your body language

Ensure that your body language is congruent with what you say.  You will not give an assertive message if you hunch your shoulders, cross your arms or look at the floor when talking to someone.  Stand upright but relaxed with open hands, and look people calmly in the eye.

6) Speak clearly

You won’t get your point across if you are hesitant or incoherent.  Speak clearly and directly, keeping statements concise.  Make sure you give a strong, direct message.  Use ‘I’ statements as much as possible to show that you take responsibility for your views.  Avoid indecisive language such as ‘perhaps’, ‘kind of’ and ‘might be’.

7) Be prepared for conflict

You may be giving someone a message that they would rather not hear and so be prepared for objections and possibly conflict.  Try to keep calm, and stick to your guns by repeating your position calmly while listening to the other person’s point of view.  Remember, if things get too heated it is best to withdraw yourself from the situation until everyone has had time to calm down.

8) Practice putting together assertive messages

Think of a situation where you feel you need to be more assertive.  Either in front of a mirror or with a trusted colleague, practise butting together assertive messages.  If you do it with a colleague, ask them for feedback – what can you improve?  Your choice of words, body language, or perhaps tone of voice?