How To Build Assertiveness From Confidence

Lucid Leadership by Rowan B. Colver

Being an unmovable force is sometimes essential in leadership. Not everyone is willing to be on your side, sometimes people will want to speak or work against you. If you are responsible for the process they are inhibiting, you have to address the problem. Assertiveness is a well-known technique that people use when they feel that they’re not being listened to or respected. It requires us to stay calm and speak with accuracy without giving concession in our rhetoric. This is notoriously difficult to master and if taken by surprise, we don’t have time to prepare ourselves. Assertiveness has to be practised until it can be turned on and off at the flick of a switch. If we find ourselves getting angry, exaggerating, over-reacting, feeling victimised, or just handing over whatever it is they want, we’ve not been assertive.

So how can we achieve this state of mind? We’re all up to our necks in our own business and when someone else adds to it it can be extremely stressful. The key is confidence. Emotional responses to unwanted situations are usually based on fear. We react by making ourselves larger than life, we raise our voice, we become extremely sensitive, we insinuate that we have the entire army of God behind us. Have you ever seen a cat make its fur stand on end? It’s the same thing. This makes us frightening and antisocial, and it’s not just the person who it’s aimed at who sees it or hears about it. Your reputation for being a good person to work with is important.

If fear is the probable cause for lack of confidence and assertiveness, you can take appropriate steps to counter-act it. Anxiety and fear are based on factors of psychology that we can take other perspectives on. A blank space in our head for what something might be is like the joker in a card game. It could be anything, and this worries us. The dark cave, the night-time forest, the alley-way behind the gym on the way home, we’ve all felt this unease. Ideas and predictions can be just as sinister subconsciously. So what are these steps, what is the process for shining our floodlights down on the darkness?

Build Trust — Trust your team and yourself. Trust-building is a combination of proving abilities and honest communication. If honest communication is backed up with real-life examples, the mind recognises the validity and openness of the situation and has no gaps to fill. We can improve our skills and get a better understanding of what we are capable of when we do exercises and activities that test our skills. In safe environments, we are free to take our time and consider our training and insights before acting. Once we establish the genuine reach of our skills in a safe environment, we feel safe using them in the consequential world.

Persistence and Practice — Your skills are an instrument, they are tools that give you the abilities to do work. Like any instrument, you must practice and continue to learn. A pianist will not stop learning, a drummer is always learning new beats. Leaders practice their skills in the same way. Each opportunity to put your skills to use, no matter how safe, is a chance to practice and learn. Take training, teach, revisit old work and see what you have learned. Never be content with how much you have learned, half of it is only relevant for a limited time anyway.

Stay Calm and Be Clear — The most valuable part of assertiveness is staying calm and being clear. His must be a conscious choice, being stopped in our tracks by unwanted input can trigger anyone on a bad day. Were not just anyone, are we? Things are different now, it’s up to us to be the ones to keep the ball rolling. When we’re calm, we can pick apart the communication of others and get to the issue. Often people embellish their complaints and stories with true but irrelevant information. This sandwich filling is not really your concern, you need to get to the crust. What are you responsible for and how is it usually resolved?

Pride and Pleasure — This is your work, your chosen direction. You need to remember that you enjoy your job and take pride in it. We’re not talking about toxic pride, the kind that blinds you and sets you up to fall, but the kind of pride that a professional takes in their ability and end result. Confidence that you can get the job done and better than the person paying you is what makes you a valuable resource. When we can hold ourselves in the light that projects authority and leadership by having an appropriately high opinion of our service, each issue can be treated as an equation you know you can balance.

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Music writer and humanities educator from Sheffield in England. Democracy of philosophy, comments are welcome. ko-fi.com/rowanblaircolver

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Rowan Blair Colver

Rowan Blair Colver

Music writer and humanities educator from Sheffield in England. Democracy of philosophy, comments are welcome. ko-fi.com/rowanblaircolver

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