Standing up for yourself and negotiating your needs are life skills that can help every professional woman grow. However, it’s unfortunately common for a woman to be mislabeled as “bossy” whenever she speaks up for herself. Let’s consider some tactical ways professional women can positively master assertiveness in the workplace:
What does it mean to be assertive?
Your first reaction to the word assertive might be that it’s for someone who is blunt, harsh, to the point, and inconsiderate. All things that lead to someone calling you bossy. However, the definition of assertive is “characterized by bold or confident statements and behavior” with synonyms like ambitious, go-getting, self-assured, strong-willed, authoritative, and positive.
As you develop your executive presence, it’s essential to understand the kind of leader you want to become. Remember, as a leader, you are not only asking for yourself but for the people on your team. Assertive leadership can help you get the resources, benefits, and more for those you want to support.
When you are asking for what you need, the best way to be assertive is to be succinct. Mumbling, rambling, and lengthy explanations are not very persuasive modes of communication. Assertiveness does not mean demanding but stating rational desires with clear objectives to support yourself or others. Be sure to approach every negotiation with a single goal in mind and a sound reason why you need to obtain it.
Examples include advocating for a higher department budget to provide much-needed salary increases for your team or requesting you be invited to upper management meetings that you were previously excluded from.
Set Clear Boundaries and Expectations
When your boss messages you after the end of the workday, do you run to your phone or laptop? If you find yourself constantly working and struggling to remember when you weren’t glued to a company group chat or solving a career-related problem, then there may be some boundary issues between you and your workplace.
It’s essential to set clear boundaries at work. Make it clear to your employer that you have set working hours and won’t be reachable at certain times. Be polite but be firm. Make it clear when disagreeing and remember it’s okay to say no. It takes some practice and reinforcement, but your work-life balance will improve significantly!
Believe In Yourself
So much of being assertive stems from believing that what you say and do is valid and essential. Imposter syndrome quickly creeps up on many women, but it’s not reality. Remind yourself of your accomplishments, celebrate the wins in your life, and take time to feel good about the work you’ve done. A little gratitude can go a long way in helping you believe in yourself. Plus, the next time you don’t agree with someone, you won’t be afraid to voice your opinion.
Be Aware Of Your Body Language
Try practicing assertive body language. Avoid crossing your arms, as that can either suggest nervousness or hostility. Stand firm, with a good posture, and maintain eye contact. Avoid slouching, crossing your legs, or playing with an item of clothing or jewelry. You want to look confident, firm, and own the space around you. Remember, you can do all these things in a neutral and friendly way!
If you want more space to be bold, proud, and be you, check out the International Association of Women. With a global community of professional women, our members find unlimited amounts of support, leadership development, entrepreneurial advice, health tips, and more! Learn how you can take advantage of IAW benefits today!