How to be assertive at work (Nicely).

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This guest article is by Andy Kaufman, PMP.
Andy KaufmanI work closely with project managers all over the globe and have noticed that there is one trait that is lacking in success. It’s assertiveness.
Some of this is cultural. Perception could be a part of the problem. People can see assertiveness at work in terms of aggression. This can be a problem.
Many of us live with the belief that stepping out is dangerous. We have rent or mortgage payments to pay so we play it safe. Edit ourselves down. Conform.
No matter the reason, sometimes project managers can become passive and this can cause problems for your projects.
Sarah Robb-O’Hagan authored Extreme You. She shares valuable lessons that will help us all increase our assertiveness. Here are three of her points about being more assertive at work.
Take a look at yourself.
Take a look at yourself. Sarah uses this phrase to encourage you to try new things. There are many things.
It’s easy for us to get stuck with our methods, our skills, and our thinking. Too many of my coaching clients aspire to live a life more in line with their passions. But they fall into the trap of a job that they hate but can’t quit because the pay is too high.
What about this? You don’t have to quit your job, just try something new. You can do it on the side.
I began speaking at technology conferences years ago, but only one or two per year. It scared me to death. But I now do it for a living.
Latent skills and opportunities may be discovered that you didn’t know existed. In an interview with Dr John Medina about his new Brain Rules book, he said that trying new things is one way to keep your brain sharp throughout the years.
Listen
Listen to what others say (and not say). You could be too passive if you have been getting feedback, spoken or not. Too quiet. Not taking initiative.
Sarah suggests that you pay attention to what you have been avoiding. This can be a good indicator of a problem area that needs to be addressed. Look out for patterns in feedback.
She suggests you be on guard for being the punchline. If people joke about your behavior (for instance, “Hey, Look! Andy is late for the meeting! Wow! It could be a sign.
Speak up
You might find yourself wondering “Why are everyone in this meeting just waiting for someone else?” It could be a sign you need to speak up.
You don’t have to be more assertive with your colleagues. It is easy to misunderstand being quiet.
Eric Barker, in an interview about Barking Up The Wrong Tree told me that the one proxy people use in determining if someone is a leader or not is how often they speak up at meetings.
Barker’s research backs Barker’s claim that it’s a weak measure. Perhaps it’s time for Barker to speak up, perhaps by asking more questions.
Assertiveness pays (literally)
Teresa Amabile, a Harvard professor, published a study titled “Brilliant but Cruel.” Her research showed that if someone is too nice we assume they are less competent.
Men with low levels of personality trait agreeableness earn up to USD 10,000 per year more than those with high levels. People who are rude have higher credit scores.
I don’t get it. It’s not something I want to believe. I don’t think it is fair to suggest that you should become a jerk by following the advice in this post.
Here’s a final example. One of my coaching clients wanted to be promoted in the next nine month from Director to Vice President. He would quit his company if he didn’t get the promotion.
Rarely have I ever seen someone so focused on a title as he was. We devised a plan that included his d.