Assertiveness in the Workplace

Assertiveness is a crucial skill to hone in the workplace and especially so in leadership.

assertive (əˈsɜːtɪv ) 



  1. confident and direct in claiming one’s rights or putting forward one’s views
  2. given to making assertions or bold demands; dogmatic or aggressive

Taken from the Collins Dictionary.

Assertive lies between PASSIVE and AGGRESSIVE.

A typical passive response is offered by someone who really wants to say no, but ends up saying yes, as they do not know how to express themselves assertively. Assertiveness requires confident whilst respecting the other persons feelings.

For example:

“Do you think you can do the monthly field sales report today?”

A typical passive reply might be:

“Yes, I’ll do it after I’ve done the filing, organised the refreshments for the conference, updated the spreadsheets, and emailed out the last reports!”

A must better and more assertive response would have been:

“No, I won’t have time to do it today as I have too many other more pressing matters to deal with”

The first example with the passive answer demonstrates a person who genuinely doesn’t have the time, but when they answer they do not actually state this fact. The manager takes this as a yes. The second answer tells the manager that they literally do not have time, and it also shows that they take deadlines of work seriously as they are prioritising.

angry manager

Aggressive is the polar opposite of passive. In leadership the aggressive manager will not get the most from his or her staff. However time and time again we see aggressive managers. The manager with this trait will have no trust from his or her staff. Leadership however, requires assertiveness throughout.

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