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5 Ways To Be More Assertive (Without Being Rude)

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5 Ways Being Pushy Is Good For You

Speak up without speaking out.

Assertiveness in the workplace can be mistaken for aggressiveness, yet being aggressive is what tends to happen when you want to leave a mark.

Comments about a co-worker can go too far. You get called out for being too excessive when challenging others during a meeting. And you might even get shunned for inadvertently mocking a colleague.

Confrontations and a crass attitude may be effective for a short time, but you might get caught in their tidal wave.

Take it from Isaac Newton. He knew. Newton's third law that states: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Forces always occur in pairs. When one body pushes against another, the second body pushes back just as hard.


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When you need to push back, think of pushing forward. In pushing back, you just do the old "eye for an eye" thing as perfectly stated in the famous Gandhi quote, "an eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind."

Instead, learn how to be more assertive at work by doing the 5 things below. These strategies will help you express your point of view without causing more ugly conflict:

1. Separate the person from the point of view.

Challenge what is said, not who the person is. Be clear about disagreeing with what is said and push forward by asking questions, rather than making blanket statements to prove the person wrong.

2. No flooding.

Resist the tendency to put all things the other has said into the present discussion. Bite your tongue when you are ready to say, "And furthermore..." or "You always..." or "Everyone else thinks..."

3. Offer solutions.

Be prepared with at least three perspectives that could help solve the problem at hand. Go beyond disagreeing by offering some ideas on what can be done that will open a new path of possibilities.


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4. Stay with positives. 

Condition yourself to use the "yes, and.." way of discussing, rather than the "yes, but..." more combative way of taking a stand.

Practice using "and", a word that connects, rather than inhibits. It guarantees more openness when you are in a push back/push forward situation.

5. Know when to stop. 

You can't win them all, at least not at the exact moment you are in debate. Some battles are better lost while you keep the larger view in mind. Concede with grace and respect and wait until the timing is more appropriate.

Speaking up to express your opinion often takes courage and vulnerability. Leadership development training is a lifelong process, and knowing when to speak out and when to shut up, is an important art and craft for today's business world.

Pushing forward, as opposed to pushing back, means rocking the boat, ruffling feathers, and getting out of the comfort zone. It especially means considering your impact on those around you, and the long-range impact of your actions.

Remember Newton's law and be prepared for others to disagree. That's expected. However, if you stay clear and open to hear others, it's disarming. You can't push your opinions down someone's throat, that's the old way.

The most important aspect of being pushy is to build trust by being candid and sharing original thoughts. You can do better when you push forward by including others, rather than being determined to get your point of view on top.


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Sylvia Lafair is a noted authority on leadership and a consultant to family firms, Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs, her message is unique and timely; her insights universal and relevant.

This article was originally published at Inc.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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