Education & Career Trends: 3 Ways To Become More Assertive

4 min read

Edition: March 1, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

Taking on more leadership roles in your organisation can help strengthen your workplace assertiveness and confidence. (Image Credit: Canva)

Excerpts from article by Barry Devret, published on

Well-meaning adults in our life teach us to stand up for ourselves when we’re children. However, for some, the lesson is not absorbed that easily. A lack of assertiveness stems from fear. People are scared to stand up for themselves out of fear of what others might think and how they might react.

Ironically, the fear of eliciting a negative response and a desire to please others results in outcomes where we attract people who despise our perceived weakness and repel folks attracted to strong and confident friends.

If that seems familiar, don’t fret.

Here are three techniques that can help you shed your diffidence and develop a more assertive personality:

1. Create a leadership position for yourself.

  • A leadership role forces you to break out of your shell.
  • If you’re shy, quiet, or compliant, you may find opportunities wanting. E.g., promotion rejection, missing out on a lucrative project, etc.
  • You don’t have to wait for someone to grant you a chance to lead.
  • Volunteer positions go unclaimed all the time. You can volunteer your skills for a challenging project within your company, or your services to an NGO that works on a cause close to your heart.
  • You can also create a nonprofit and run it in your spare time.
  • These roles force you to hunt for volunteers, ask for donations and answer people who rely on you to improve their lives.
  • All such actions develop your assertiveness muscle.

2. Become a facilitator for your peers/colleagues.

  • If verbal persuasion is not your strength, try to reframe your role as a facilitator.
  • Acting as a facilitator in chief is a low-contact technique to develop assertiveness and confidence.
  • The risk of rejection runs lower than if you were in a pure leadership role because you’re not seeking anything for your benefit. Instead, you’re making the job of other people easier.
  • Think of it as a baby step towards self-confidence and assertiveness.
  • To get started, create a database of your contacts. Learn about the needs of each person. Seek out what makes them unusual or unique.
  • This information gives hints about their dreams, struggles, and passions. Talk about their strengths. People love to hear about the skills where they excel.
  • In time, your database grows, and you’ll be able to match up people in need with people who can fill that demand.
  • As you make connections, the law of reciprocity often follows. The parties who benefit from your work will return the favour if given the opportunity.

3. Respect your agency. Learn to say “no”.

  • Are you the kind of person who tries to please everyone?
  • If so, you probably do so at the expense of your own agency. In stark terms, you let people walk all over you.
  • People-pleasing sounds noble, but those inclined to take advantage of you will smell weakness and exploit your compliant tendency.
  • That doesn’t mean you should never try to please people, only that you shouldn’t do it at the expense of your happiness.
  • It’s essential to say “no” when others make excessive demands of your time, money, or resources.
  • It also serves as proof to yourself that you can take on more challenging roles in leadership, activism, and organisation.

Have you checked out the yesterday’s blog yet?

Career Trends: 5 Reasons Why You Should Take That Professional Risk

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above mentioned article are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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