It’s a fine line between coming off as assertive and appearing aggressive.
Many people often confuse the two words – especially where women are concerned.
An assertive man is considered “firm,” while a woman with the same communication style may be thought of as “aggressive.”
Bottom line: We all need to project confidence and take a firm line with co-workers during the workday.
Here are three ways to do just that from career coach Dan O’Neil:
1. Pay attention to your feelings
Assertive can become aggressive when you start to feel angry.
Pay attention to how you feel and keep in mind: You can always stop the conversation and pick it back up at a later time.
2. Find someone to imitate
No doubt there’s someone you work with who fits the definition of “assertive.”
Watch them when they communicate assertively.
Are there “power words” they use? How do they stand? What kind of eye contact do they make? How often do they smile?
3. Follow their lead
When you communicate assertively, others really hear what you’re saying.
Try mirroring the other person’s posture and speaking volume.
For instance: If they’re standing with their arms crossed, you do it, too.
The same holds true for how loudly and quickly they speak
If their voice is soft with the words coming out at a slow place, match it.
Tip: If you need to emphasize a point, it’s OK to speak just a little bit more loudly – just watch that it doesn’t escalate into a shouting match.