How to Assert Yourself at Work

Not getting the respect you think you deserve at the office? try these tips for upping your assertiveness.

By Reader's Digest Editors

The way you talk, sit, and introduce yourself can all affect how your colleagues perceive you. If you’re not getting the respect you think you deserve at the office, try these tips for upping your assertiveness from executive coach Elizabeth Kuhnke and others.

Take up space. Place your palms so they are facing each other and steeple your fingers. This forces your hands apart and your arms will take up more space. This is such an effective negotiating posture that legions of CEOs, politicians, and lawyers use it.

Drop your voice. People find gravelly voices more credible. Stick to your lower registers and speak evenly. Keep your voice from rising at the end of sentences.

Delay introducing yourself. When you first meet someone, chat with him or her for a few seconds before giving your name. By then, he or she will have a reason to remember it.

Be clear. Know exactly what you want. Make clear statements about your thoughts. For example, say “I feel uncomfortable with your decision to…”

Buy time. If you are not sure what to think or say, ask for time to think it over.

Monitor your body language. Keeping your head upright, your shoulders relaxed, and your upper chest softly opened will give you the appearance of authority. Choose words over gestures. Nodding to show empathy can be misinterpreted as agreement. If you disagree with something, say so verbally to avoid misunderstanding.

Prohibit interruption. If co-workers try to interrupt you, raise your voice and continue speaking. If they continue to babble, lift one finger to indicate that you have not yet finished. If that doesn’t work, hold up your hand as if to say, “Stop!” Or say, “Excuse me, I hadn’t finished.”

Ask for what you want. Don’t wait around for someone to guess what would make you happy. Ask directly for the things you want.

Respect others. They have a right to be assertive too.

Source: The Guardian, The Herald

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