Tag Archive for Allie Casey

Workplace Communication—How to Use Assertive Communication and Stand Up for Your Rights

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Assertive behavior in the workplace is the dynamic balance between aggressive and passive conduct. Maintaining this balance is crucial for managing relationships and standing up for your rights. Understanding and using assertive behavior is a critical business communication skill.

To get a sense of the dynamic range between passive and aggressive behavior think of child’s seesaw with assertiveness sitting on the fulcrum point.  Consider assertive communication as the delicate movement needed to maintain balance before the plank hits the passive or aggressive ground might. 

Behavior too far toward the aggressive end and your behavior might be viewed as abusive. Yet, displaying behavior  too far to the passive side and your conduct might suggest you are hiding something.

Standing up for your rights assertively is mature behavior and it creates a balanced work environment.

Assertive communication says you have healthy sense of yourself, you regard others as equals, and it indicates a desire for personal growth.

Assertive behavior does not violate the right of others from being heard, nor does it violate your own right from self-expression. Aggressive behavior is bully behavior and every workplace seems to have at least one destructive player that feels the need to win over everything else.

When encountering an aggressive personality it is best to remember that this person is operating from fear. This is a good time to don your Teflon coat to keep any personal attack from sticking. If you are constantly being interrupted while you are making a point, it is acceptable to take back the stage to finish your statement. Saying something such as “let me finish my point, John,” in a calm, steady, well-modulated voice is an acceptable technique. Repeat as needed. This pegs you as having the voice of reason and leadership.

If you are the aggressor it would be wise to examine the results of your behavior as well as your motives. Do others avoid you? Are co-workers reluctant to support your point-of view? You might be gaining the upper hand in some situations but at what cost. What are you afraid of losing if you allow others their right to an opposing opinion?

Passive behavior as a communication style can be just as damaging—to you as well as to others. It indicates low self-esteem (as does aggressive behavior) it expects others to guess your thoughts and motives and it slows down productivity. At first glance, a passive employee may seem ideal—does their work and doesn’t say much. What is missing from that equation is the possibility of better ideas and solutions to problems. Passive communication creates guess work on the part of others, and it invites aggressive responses.

If you are prone to passive behavior consider asserting yourself in low-risk situations. Give your opinion on a light hearted but controversial topic during a lunchtime break. Adding your opinion about whose going to win American Idol, Dancing with the Stars or the World Series rarely causes more than playful banter while adding color to the conversation. From there practice taking more risks by asserting yourself at meetings, even if it is to agree with others. Your voice is important. You have the same rights as others and letting others violate them is unfair to all parties.

Should you encounter a passive communicator help them out by encouraging their thoughts and refusing to take “I don’t care what we do” or “it doesn’t matter to me” as answers.

Assertive communication allows for fair exchange, collaboration and teamwork. Assertive behavior from everyone creates a productive and pleasant workplace.

What do you think?

Want more tips you can put to use immediately? Then pick up a copy of my book, Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. Oh, and don’t forget your FREE 6 part audio on The Power of Effective Communication–just put your name and email in the boxes on your upper right to get instant access.

Leadership–10 Qualities for Success

dreamstimefree_4260686Leadership requires  far more than a list of 10 qualities but for the sake of space and feedback I’ve listed a few I don’t usually see mentioned.

It goes without saying that the broad category of  communication skills is a quality I believe every leader needs to succeed so I’ve chosen not to put it on my list.  I  consider communication skills to include speaking, presenting, selling and  persuading. I did, however, include listening on my list simply because some things require emphasis.

Here’s my list:
1. Active Listening Skills--and being able to ask “is there anything more?”
2. Empathy–and having a deep understanding of priorities (using the 10,10,10 method)
3. Inspirational–being able to create an environment that supports motivated people
4. Courage–and the conviction to carry out intentions and tough decisions when it really counts
5. Clarity of intention–and the insight to question your motives
6. Servant Leadership–and the wisdom to know what that means
7. Humor–and humility, they often travel hand-in-hand
8. Vision–and the ability to enroll your team in the journey
9. Vitality–even the physically incapacitated can possess the extraordinary mental vigor to lead
10.Confidence–not arrogance but faith in your abilities to lead

and 10+ Trustworthiness and Moral Fortitude

Your thoughts?

Job Function–Avoid Costly Misundersandings with Clear Communication

1181346_person_maskMisunderstanding a job role causes more issues than simply lost production. Customer complaints, lost business, public safety or legal issues are all at stake.

Clear communication takes more than a paragraph in a handbook or a few sentences uttered by human resources or a manager. Ideally, the job function conversation should occur not only during the interview and orientation process but throughout the first ninety days.

Here are a few ways to clearly communicate the role of a job to decrease misunderstandings:

  1. Verbally describe the role including tasks and expectations. The challenge here is to be both specific and broad. Use stories and examples to help create a picture that words alone fail to illustrate. Communicate the desired outcome graphically.
  2. Written job descriptions are critical to compliance.  Don’t rely on an initialed checklist indicating the new hire has read and understood the information. Written communication alone does not address questions adequately and leaves the new hire without an appropriate venue for voicing questions or concerns. Take the time to review and expand the job description using real examples.
  3. Use a detailed description of a typical day or scenarios the new hire might encounter. Again, using a story format helps put the new hire into the picture.
  4. Describe situations outside the job description the new hire would be expected to handle. Give end-result expectations and examples.
  5. After giving a verbal and written description ask for feedback in the form of a summary–not a list or recitation–but a description of how they see the function and their role in making it happen. Ask how they would handle a situation and encourage details about the end results. Listen for any disconnects between their “idea” of the job and the actual expectations of the job. What is not being said is more important than what is being said.
  6. Ask for where they see their biggest challenge in their job. Ask for a strategy for achieving results. Do not let “hopefully, I can…” be an acceptable answer. Hope is not a strategy. Too frequently new hires are skilled at giving the appropriate answers but have no intentions or aptitude for actually doing the function.

Clearly communicating policy, processes and job function is a part of your job if you hire or manage people. Spend more time on this critical message upfront and enjoy fewer misunderstandings in the future.

If you want more tips you can use on the job be sure to get your FREE 6 part audio series by putting your name and email in the boxes to your upper right. Now, pick up a copy of Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work-What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up, for dozens of tips and techniques that can change your life.

How to Quickly Communicate with Anyone and Avoid Misunderstanding

1005753_jpear1earOne of the great understandings in life is the realization that not everyone thinks the same way that you do. And so it goes with communication.

Misunderstandings occur when you fail to communicate in the way others want to want to listen. The solution is to make a shift in your style that better matches the recipient. You do this by using words, intonation, pacing and gestures that resonant with them.

The challenge is to incorporate this into your daily communication.

Here are some guidelines for making a quick determination of communication style types:

  • When greeting someone for the first time, notice how quickly they move. Is it quick and determined or slower and relaxed?
  • What about their gestures? Are they sharp and staccato, animated, measured or barely visible?
  • Is their posture displaying confidence, timidity, friendliness or overload?
  • Do they appear approachable or inaccessible? Do they make direct eye contact or shy away?
  • What emotion does their face reveal? Do they have an easy smile and grinning eyes, a polite half-smile and concerned eyes, little or no smile with darting eyes or a resolute mouth and purposeful eyes?

You can begin to make changes in the way you approach and communicate with others by noticing these physical characteristics. Make it a game to observe the people you work with, on the street and at home.

Quickly shift your energy and physicality to better match theirs and watch what happens. Think of this as dancing with different partners. You don’t need to become someone else you simply need to learn how to move together so you glide smoothly across the room without stepping on each others toes.

The study of communication styles is exhaustive but if you apply this simple method you can begin to communicate with less effort and enjoy fewer misunderstandings.

If you would like to learn 29 more tips and techniques just grab your FREE 6-part audio series on “The Power of Effective Communication” by putting your name and email in the boxes on your upper right.  Or simply pick up a copy of Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work-What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. Get it today at Amazon.