Successful managers are assertive managers. Assertive managers not only know how to communicate their needs, But they do it in a way that gets results and earns them respect. Here are six of the best tips for improving your assertiveness skills:
1. Choose the right time. Imagine you're charging down the hall, late for a meeting. Sally passes by. You call out: "Can you have the Johnston project out by Friday?" Because you haven't reserved a special time to bring up the issue, Sally has no reason to think your request
is a top priority.
2. Choose the right place. A closed, private space is best when discussing major issues or criticizing job performance. Also use neutral locations. Example: A meeting room rather than your office. A neutral location lets you exit should the person become angry.
Be direct. Example: "Sally, I need you to work overtime on the Johnston project." Whether or not Sally likes your request, she respects you for not beating around the bush.
Use "I" statements, not "we." Don't say: "We need the project by Friday." Say instead: "I need you to finish this project by Friday." "I" statements let Sally know who's in charge.
Avoid this trick: "Sally, could you work overtime on the Johnston project?" This question shifts responsibility for the decision from your shoulders to Sally.
4. Be specific. Don't say: "Put a rush on the Johnston project." Instead: "I need the Johnston project finished and on my desk by 8a.m. Friday morning."
5. Use body language to back up your words. "Sally, I need that report Friday morning," is assertive enough. But if you mumble this statement while staring dumbly at the floor, you take the punch from your words.
6. Confirm your request. You know of one manager who asks the staff to take notes at meetings. When a meeting ends, she asks the employee to repeat back to her the specifics of her request. This tactic minimizes miscommunication.
Another tactic is to follow up with a written memo. Not only will a memo summarize the particulars of your meeting, but the written word tends to carry more weight than the spoken word.