Be assertive + be proactive!

The business world is full of these little slogans about how important it is to take action, and for good reason. You won’t get anywhere if you sit around and wait for opportunity to come knocking for you. For some, the confidence and surety of an assertive stance come naturally. Be aware though, there is a delicate balance between being assertive and being aggressive, and you need to be mindful of that line.

So what does it mean to be assertive? You need to know what you want and what you need, and you need to be your own best advocate for that. Being assertive is knowing what you need and communicating that confidently. You can’t get things done if you don’t know where to start. Being assertive means that you know where to go and what to do. Assertiveness is awareness.

Just because you know what you want doesn’t mean you can just walk up and take it. People talk about seizing the day, but you usually can’t just seize things without upsetting someone or another. That crosses the line into aggression. If assertiveness combines knowing how to work with people and a need you have to meet, aggressiveness ignores the other people part. Aggressiveness does not consider how others will perceive you or what they might need in return. It’s a purely selfish motivation and can damage your carefully cultivated relationships. Remember, be assertive, not aggressive.

Because assertiveness keeps others in mind, you are not only meeting your own needs, but the needs of those around you. It’s a win win situation and everyone walks away happy. When you are assertive, you make people realize their own importance as well as reinforcing the relationship you share. Just the simple act of collaboration can do wonders for strengthening a bond.

Assertiveness strengthens relationships while aggressiveness weakens them. Keep that in mind in your day to day life. But it is a fine line to walk, and mistakes happen. Sometimes we come off too strong, but damage isn’t irreparable. Assertiveness is about awareness, and if you are aware of your mistake, you can fix it.

We’ll leave you with an example so you can see how assertiveness can help everyone involved. Imagine that you have a large project assigned to you, and the deadline is simply impossible to meet. Your company’s need is a project to finish. You need assistance. You go to a coworker and explain the importance of the project and the issue of the time frame. Ask for a hand, making sure to hit on how their skills will be invaluable. The company will have a finished project, you will be able to complete your task, and your coworker appreciates your gratitude and shares a stronger bond with you because of it. Being effective isn’t about not needing help. It’s about knowing when and how to ask for help.