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July 4, 2016

Communicate Assertiveness

Assertive communication skills are necessary for professional success, and your ability to speak clearly gets you noticed in all the right ways. An assertive communication style is a win/win style. You demonstrate confidence in your knowledge, yet are open to what others have to say. It’s a two-way street.shutterstock_134649776

  • Be positive. Stating something in the positive creates a level of understanding and authority that negative statements don’t have. For example, “I will take care of this when I receive your completed application” is more convincing and easier to understand than “I can’t take care of this until I receive your completed application.”
  • Be firm. Words such as “maybe,” “might,” and “possibly” are weak. They convey uncertainty. One of the worst statements is, “I think.” People infer that you are unsure and not confident in what you are about to say. If you honestly believe what you are about to say, use, “I believe” to command much more authority. If you’re not sure, just don’t say anything.
  • No slang. It’s easy to fall into slang or colloquial phrases, such as “Whatever,” “Why not?,” and “Tough luck.” They often pepper our language with our friends, but they are not appropriate in a professional setting.  Watch for them and eliminate them.
  • Avoid “you.” “You” is a tricky pronoun. When people hear it, they put up their defenses in the expectation of being attacked or criticized. Rather than use “you,” aim for more neutral language by switching to passive voice. Instead of saying, “Did you send the RFP by the deadline?” say, “Was the RFP sent by the deadline?”
  • Be quiet. Silence is a powerful form of communication. When you’re not sure how to respond, or even if you should, just be quiet.

Make it a habit to speak only after giving it some thought and aim for positive assertiveness. See my blog posts Five Communication Mistakes to Avoid and Watch Your Language for more information.

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