Being assertive is an essential element to getting ahead in business. For many people, this is a difficult skill to learn, but the payoff is worth it. Anything you achieve in life, like college degrees, job offers, new clients, or business deals, is all a result of your conscious effort. But how do you become more assertive, so you don’t sell yourself short on your goals?
If being assertive conjures up negative thoughts of pushy and annoying people, you need to let go of that limiting belief. The world is more shameless than ever, and most people’s “annoyance” barometer is not with the times.
In today’s hyper-competitive world, you must ask for what you want in life. There’s no shame in being direct with what you want! Here are 5 approaches you can take to assert yourself gracefully to achieve your goals.
1. Be visible on multiple platforms
Make sure that you’re visible to the people who most need your help. The purpose of any business is to help solve other people’s problems, and in this digital era, most problem-solving is done online.
Engage with the people you are looking to work with or network with on multiple platforms. Follow them on Instagram and connect on LinkedIn at the bare minimum. If you are friendly with each other, send a text to check up on them. If you have a more professional relationship, send them a brief email occasionally. Add subtle value to their life and share helpful information or something they would find funny.
Being visible doesn’t mean you must be physically present, although that is an option. It means you make a conscious, repeated effort to interact with the person or group with whom you want to be involved. Raise their awareness of your presence and intent. The saying, “out of sight, out of mind,” holds with relationships. Communicate by leaving a comment on one of their social media posts, attend their fundraiser, or text them. Don’t be shy!
2. Be persistent
When pursuing new opportunities, the reality is you can’t reach out just once. Present yourself as someone valuable and supportive so that other people know what you’re about. If they regularly hear from you when new opportunities arise, they will be compelled to respond to your thoughts and requests. Don’t overstep boundaries, but don’t give up just because your first attempt fails.
An abundance mindset is key here. Persistence is easy when you understand that new clients need you more than you need them. Your motivation for reaching out is one of service, helpfulness, and understanding. You want what’s best for them, and you know you can help them get it. Why wouldn’t you persist in pursuing that?
3. Be polite
A little politeness goes a long way. Contrary to what you might believe, being assertive and polite do not have to be at odds. Assertive people won’t hesitate to show politeness to everyone; simply because they have nothing to lose for showing kindness. Show your clients and colleagues that you respect their time, money, and efforts frequently. People will appreciate it if your politeness is rooted in gratitude.
Politeness can make others feel like they are in a safe space. If they believe and trust that you are on their side, they will actively listen to your ideas, coaching, or advice. They will want to support you or help you move toward your goals.
Assertiveness doesn’t feel like a struggle when you know the people you surround yourself with want to help you, and all it takes is a bit of politeness.
4. Be clear
Clear communication is essential for being an assertive professional. If you are supervising a team, they should know for certain what your expectations for them are. If you’re working with other people on a new project, ask clarifying questions and be detail-oriented. There is no shame in asking someone to explain something you are unclear about.
Lots of entrepreneurs and high-achieving professionals will let imposter syndrome interfere with their communication at times. They may feel embarrassed or unqualified to ask clarifying questions, set boundaries, or raise their rates. Their insecurities get the best of them.
However, being assertive with what you want, need, or expect from other people will only increase their respect for you. If you have clear communication with your vision, goals, and plan for working with them, you’ll find that they appreciate the lack of ambiguity. They’ll be even more willing to continue the relationship.
5. Be flexible
Showing that you’re flexible will only increase your authority. You can be confident and clear without bossing people around. Suggest a specific course of action but ask the other person what their suggestions are. People want to feel that you respect their input.
Schedules can change, and even the most detailed plans can fall through. You must be flexible and willing to change your course of action to achieve a common goal. This ties back to being polite and empathetic toward others. People might need to back out or change their opinions because of elements no one can foresee. Don’t sacrifice relationships for the sake of getting your way.
The bottom line
Though becoming assertive can be an uncomfortable thing to learn, there are 5 approaches you can take to become a more assertive professional. To get ahead in business, you must put yourself out there, let people know who you are, and make a case for yourself.
Assertiveness does require some finesses, so don’t forget to be polite. Keep in mind that people respond well to authenticity and that you have nothing to lose by making people feel comfortable around you. If you are persistent, polite, transparent, and flexible, you will find that being assertive is easy. Your professional and personal life will reap all the benefits
Where are you looking to be assertive in your life? Which approach are you most excited about developing? Let us know in the comments below!