Business English Lessons: Being Assertive In The Office
In this forum, we will be focusing on helping you become more assertive in a range of different business situations.
What does being assertive mean? In short, it means being confident enough to express your feelings and opinions in a clear and direct way, while still valuing the opinions and ideas of others. It means being direct, but not rude. It means listening to others, but also making sure your voice is heard.
How will these lessons help me? * These lessons will help you understand the rules to being assertive. * These lessons will help you learn how to be firm but fair when expressing yourself. * These lessons will help you gain more power when communicating in English.
We hope you enjoy these lessons and get a lot out of them.
The following posts are dedicated to helping you become more assertive.
In most conflict situations people are either aggressive (rude and direct), passive (timid and trying to avoid conflict), or assertive (firm, but fair).
In general, being assertive can help you gain more control of your work and life. However, it does take time to master the skill of being assertive.
The following examples should help you get a feel for how you can be more assertive in various workplace situations.
Situation:Listening to others while still communicating that you're in charge 1. Thanks for your suggestion. I'll take that into consideration.
2. Thank you for that idea. Let me think about it and get back to you.
3. Although that is a good idea, I don't think it's suitable at this stage. Tips: 1) Show you listened. 2) Inform the other person what you will do or what you think. 3) Don’t use questions (e.g. Is it OK if I think about it?).
Situation:Being assertive when your boss always asks you to do overtime 1. No, I’m not busy on Friday; however I plan to get out of the office and relax. Sorry.
2. No, I’m not busy on Wednesday, but I can't do overtime. Sorry. I need a rest.
3. I’m really sorry, but I can’t do overtime this week. I need to (see my family/study etc.). Note: With example 3, make sure you are telling the truth. Don’t make up an excuse. Tips: 1) Apologize. 2) Give a clear reason why you can’t comply, 3) Don't ask questions (e.g. Is that OK?).
Situation:Being assertive when your boss gives you more work than you can handle 1. I am really sorry, but at the moment I just don't have time to do that. If you can wait a day or two I can get to it.
2. I am happy to help out, but at the moment I have a lot on my plate. You will need to find someone else, or delegate one of my tasks to someone else so I can help you with this work.
3. I would really like to help, but at the moment I just don’t have the time. Could you please ask someone else and when I get some free time I will let you know. Tips: 1) Show your willingness to work. 2) Give a reason. 3). Offer a solution.
Thinking Point: Being assertive requires you to be firm in your language, but not rude. It requires you to listen to others, but maintain your idea/stance if you think what you are saying is fair or correct. Remember, being assertive is about keeping control of the situation, so try to limit asking questions such as "Is it Ok?" or "Do you mind?" as this may lead to an unwanted discussion or, in some instances, a debate..
aggressive (adj.): overly confident and too direct in one’s speech
assertive (adj.): confident and firm in one’s idea or opinion
a lot on my plate (idiom): a lot of work to do
take into consideration (exp.): to think about
get back to you (exp.): reply to you
debate (n.): a verbal disagreement
As we have learned in the previous post, conflict can cause people to communicate in an aggressive, passive, or assertive way.
In business situations, being assertive can help you gain control of your work and help protect you against being taken advantage of.
Check out the following examples and situations to get a feel for how you can be more assertive in various work and business situations.
Situation:Being assertive when you need more information or when you desire time to think 1. Could you please give me more information so I can make an informed decision?
2. I will have to get back to you about that.
3. Let me get back to you, I need time to think. Communication Tips: 1) Be clear that you need time. 2) Don’t phrase the need as a question.
Situation:Being assertive when you disagree with someone 1. I understand what you are saying, but I disagree. I think that…
2. I have listened to what you have said, but I just don’t agree. The truth is…
3. Yes, I understand where you are coming from, however the truth/fact/reality is… Communication Tips: 1) Show you have listened. 2) Be clear that you disagree. 3) Explain why.
Situation:Being assertive when someone has done something to upset you 1. I am sorry, could you please stop doing that. It upsets me.
2. When is a good time for us to talk about something that has been bothering me?
3. I was wondering when we can talk about what happened yesterday? It has been bothering me. Communication Tips: 1) Be clear with your message. 2) Set a time to talk about the problem (maybe the person was unaware that their behavior upset you).
Thinking Point: Being assertive requires you to be very clear with your language - using declarative statements and not being ambiguous. It requires you to speak in a firm but fair way. Being assertive is especially important in situations where you think what you are saying is fair or correct.
Being Assertive When Negotiating for a Better Salary or More Perks
If you are in a situation where you need to negotiate your salary and benefits, you might benefit from the following tips and examples.
Show you understand the market: Based on my (research/experience)…
Showing that you understand the market and current salary ranges might help you negotiate better. Examples
1. Based on my research, I know the current salary range for a similar position in a similar company is ($-$$$) and I would be expecting something similar.
2. Based on my experience and the current market conditions, I feel I am worth ($$$).
3. Based on the current market I feel I should be paid ($$$).
Show your value: The value I can bring to the company …/ I am confident I can…
It is important to show the employer your true (or expected) contribution and value. What can you do that others can’t? What do you bring to the table? Examples
1. As you can see from my CV, I know how to hit targets and make sales.
2. It‘s clear from my academic background and work experience that I am (I could be) a valuable asset to this company.
3. The value I bring to the company is clear. I was the best salesperson this year.
4. I am confident I can help this company grow by...
5. I am the only employee at this company who...
Appeal to the person: I am really hoping to be rewarded for my (hard work/loyalty/great results).
Appeal to your employer’s human side. If you have dedicated yourself to the company or achieved great results, make sure your employer/future employer knows about it. Examples
1. I am really hoping that I can be compensated for all the work and dedication I have shown over the years.
2. I am really hoping that this company is willing to compensate me in a way that matches my previous results, effort, and potential to help this company get even stronger.
3. I would like to be rewarded for my work thus far, so I would like to be paid ($$$).