Ways to Stop Being Too Nice at Work and Start Being Assertive

being assertive

Photo by Cathy Yeulet

There’s nothing wrong with being nice. But, it’s important to recognize the difference between being nice and being a pushover. 

You are a serious asset to your workplace – you just need to make sure people see it! What’s holding you back from doing this? Often, it’s the ability to be assertive. 

This is something that’s essential for being taken seriously at work. Although it’s important to be respectful and polite, if you want to make big progress in your company, you need to start taking charge. It’s about putting your future in your own hands and driving your own success!

Are you wondering how you can do this? If the answer is yes, take a look at our top tips for the best ways to stop being too nice and start being more assertive at work. 

1. Be direct about what you want 

A lot of people are afraid of being too direct due to a fear of being perceived as rude or aggressive. If this sounds like you, it’s important to understand that it doesn’t have to. 

If you want to move forward, it’s important to be direct about the things you want. You can get your message across by being professional and precise in your words – this is far from rude! 

Remember, never doubt yourself or the things that you want. You should always be prepared to demonstrate your points concisely and to share the benefits of those wants with others. 

2. Always be prepared with your answers 

When you start telling people what you want, you’ll notice very quickly that they will have loads of questions. Being assertive means coming up with a clear plan of action beforehand. 

However, make sure your answers are concise. You should avoid rambling at all costs. Always ask yourself: What are the key things I want to say, and what is the most important thing that my audience takes away? This will help you get to the point quickly and make a great impression. 

3. Practice giving assertive responses 

Do you feel like people keep walking all over you? If this is the case, it’s time to start practicing some assertive responses for when this happens. It’s not about being rude, but simply demonstrating to others that you’re not willing to be pushed around or manipulated. 

For example, For example, imagine you have taken out the trash every day this week, but it is a shared task…

Co-worker: “Can you take out the garbage?”

You: “Actually, I’ve taken the garbage out every day this week. I think it’s someone else’s turn!”

As you can see, this response is strong and assertive, but not rude. It’s also much more effective than being passive or passive-aggressive towards the other person. 

4. Have self-confidence and courage 

Assertiveness and confidence go hand-in-hand. Fortunately, you can develop your confidence over time by using daily positive practices. These practices include speaking daily affirmations about yourself and reversing any negative thoughts in your mind. 

Additionally, avoid comparing yourself to others at all costs! Instead, imagine what you want in your career and never doubt your abilities. With a little work, you can get the things you want! 

If you feel like your needs aren’t being heard or met, it’s important to have courage in expressing this. Be persistent. If you’re a passionate person, this will shine through and you should maintain your level of assertion until you feel like you’re being listened to. 

5. Work on your body language 

When it comes to being assertive, your body language and tone of voice are just as important as your words. You should aim for these to be as confident as possible. 

In terms of body language, you should stand up straight and keep your shoulders back. Also, make sure you avoid defensive or nervous body language, like hunching your shoulders to make yourself look smaller, crossing your arms, or having clenched fists. 

Your tone of voice should be steady and calm, and always avoid raising your voice. Listen to the other person, too, as keeping your tone at a similar level will make them more likely to actively pay attention to you. 

6. Set clear boundaries – and stick to them! 

Another key part of being assertive is having clear boundaries for what behavior you are willing to accept from others. When you know what you won’t accept, it’s much easier to recognize when you’re being treated unfairly or when you’re not being respected. 

Having boundaries will make you feel much less anxious. Since you know what situations are unacceptable to you, it will be much easier to stand up for yourself. It also helps to have responses prepared in advance in case these situations come up. 

7. Stop apologizing when you don’t need to 

Being assertive doesn’t mean always thinking you’re right. Of course, everyone makes mistakes. Making genuine apologies when you need to is important. But, these apologies will be much more meaningful if you only say them when you need to and when you mean it. 

You don’t need to apologize for things that aren’t your fault. This includes expressing your needs and wants, both at home and at work. You don’t need to feel guilty for this, and it’s important to share these respectfully and with assertion when appropriate. 

8. Don’t take it too far 

Last but not least, it’s important to understand the difference between being assertive and being aggressive. You should be firm, but this doesn’t mean you have to be unkind. 

Aggression is usually emotionally-charged. Things like using insults or a ‘win-at-all-costs’ approach is unlikely to get you anywhere. Avoid bringing up these topics when you feel emotional, as it’s important to consider the wellbeing of others. 

Try and get your point across using other methods, like direct words, positive body language, self-confidence, and eye contact. Your co-workers will feel less attacked and will be much more likely to listen and take you seriously. 

Being assertive is the answer…

Being nice isn’t a bad thing. But, if you’re not careful, it can hamper your career progress. 

Start incorporating assertiveness into your behavior, and you’ll start seeing the positive changes you’ve been looking for!

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