The need for assertiveness in the workplace

Assertiveness in the workplace is a very important skill says Lizanne de Jong. Firstly, you need to express your needs and wants and secondly be aware of your rights in expressing these needs and claiming your power. A lack of assertiveness leads to employees feeling disgruntled, being treated unfairly or their rights being ignored. This is according to Lizanne de Jong, Course Leader of the Assertive Communication Skills course hosted by Alusani Skills & Training Network®.

What makes you assertive is often seated in your personality but there are other factors that can lead to the inability to express your rights. These factors could be a lack of self-confidence, your socialisation that taught you to keep your needs to yourself or just a lack of skill in communicating in an assertive way. If you have a manager who is a bully, ignores your needs or who lacks listening skills you will feel less inclined to express yourself in an assertive way.

In getting to know your personality preferences, you gain insight in how you handle conflict. You get people who are comfortable with conflict, and who will not avoid conflicting situations. On the other hand, there are people who will always avoid conflict or ignore the conflict in the office or team. By understanding how you react to conflict, will help you to hone in on your assertiveness skills. You also have to understand the other side of the continuum, where some people become overly assertive and can come across as being aggressive. Aggressiveness is when we do not consider the rights of other people, and we harm more than help in our communication with others. Passiveness is where we don’t act at all and you can be seen as a ‘walk-over.’ The important focus is to understand yourself, manage your boundaries well and know what you want and to ask for it in an appropriate manner, says de Jong.

We are often in a position where we need to have an awkward conversation with a manager. The first step is to focus on how you feel about a situation. You need to describe the situation, how it makes you feel, what behaviour would be acceptable to you and how you will react if the behaviour persists.

You can learn the scripting for assertive behaviour and practise the skill. In managing and learning your assertive behaviour, you can contribute to your team in a more productive way. You defuse conflict easier if you act assertively, and are treated in a way where your needs are heard and respected.

You also learn how to recognise aggressive people, how to manage them and operate in the area where you have a choice of possible actions to take. When you start acting assertively you don’t get drawn into office politics you are also able to express your wants and rights in appropriate ways and no one walks over you. The biggest advantage of assertive behaviour is that you feel you have more control in difficult situations. You gain confidence the more you use the techniques and skills and you also become aware of the games that other people play.

The course is specifically suited for women, who through their socialisation, often feel they cannot be assertive. You will gain insight into your personality, your personal conflict style and you will also get the opportunity to practise this new skill. Being assertive will also empower you to stand up for your rights and you will learn that you have the power to be heard, be treated with the necessary respect and to change the outcome of difficult conversation or interactions with difficult people.

For more insights join the Assertive Communication Skills for Women course hosted by Alusani Skills & Training Network ®. Contact us to find out when our next course is running. For more information about the course and available early bird discounts, call 011 447 7470, email or visit our website

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