ASSERTIVENESS is not about being aggressive and getting your way no matter what. Rather, it is the ability to express yourself in a straight-forward manner without harming others.
"In most situations we have the choice to be passive, assertive or aggressive," says Monique Harrisberg, CEO and founder of The Voice Clinic. "Being assertive is ... a middle ground between being a bully and a doormat."
Although it sometimes seems easier and more accommodating to be passive, this approach can lead to stress and anxiety as frustration builds because you feel your needs are not being met.
Harrisberg suggests these ways to express yourself assertively:
Start by saying: "Do you have a minute for us to discuss something?" ;
Do not introduce confusion and woolly thinking to the interaction — express yourself simply and unambiguously;
Use the word "I" rather than "you";
Be tactful in what you say and in how you say it;
Be respectful of the person you are speaking to, but state your case clearly;
Do not blame other people for the way you feel -accept responsibility for your emotions;
Give the other person a chance to respond;
At the end of the discussion, make sure there is room for future communication; and
Do not let things simmer — rather deal with situations as they arise, unless you need time to calm down first. Do not begin the session if you are angry.
• This article was first published in Sunday Times: Business Times