When Being Assertive Goes Too Far
Assertiveness is vital to being successful – not just in business but in life.
Confidently asking for what you want, holding others accountable when things go wrong, and not allowing yourself to be talked into making bad decisions are just a few examples of how being assertive can help you get things done.
But, as Michael Masterson points out, there’s a big difference between being assertive – being what Michael calls a “pusher” – and being a bully.
“A pusher,” says Michael, “is someone who does everything he can to get you to do things you might not want to do but know that you should do. When and if the pusher pushes you into doing such things, you feel good about yourself and grateful to him. A pusher – however pushy – has your interests at heart. A bully thinks of nothing but his own.”
You want to be a pusher.
Let’s say you have a big sales promotion due in two days, and you find out that one of your co-workers has convinced the graphics department to put your project on the back burner and work on his instead.
You have a right to be angry. But instead of screaming and yelling about it, you should call your co-worker and the designers together and explain why your project has priority. (“It was on the schedule first, and my two-day deadline is more urgent than Marty’s four-day deadline.”) Don’t leave until all parties understand and agree. And make it clear that you don’t want to see this happen again.
Here are some techniques you can use to be expertly assertive in almost any situation you’ll encounter at work… or in your personal life:
- Always speak in a civil manner.
- Be specific when asking for deadlines or clarification.
- Be clear when voicing your opinion, and be prepared to explain your reasoning.
- Don’t do anything you don’t agree with just to avoid conflict.
- Disagree with ideas or suggestions, not people. Don’t make it personal.