How to be assertive

Cat got your tongue when you’re trying to say no? Try these simple tips to get a bit more assertive when you really need it…

Being assertive in any job is vital. Imagine the shop owner unable to say no when asked for a discount. Or the admin clerk who ends up doing everyone’s copies at the printer. Or the shop assistant who keeps covering the shifts of one (or more) of their colleagues.

In each of these instances the effect of not being able to say ‘no’ is bound to have a detrimental knock-on effect in the individual’s work, be it a loss in revenue, falling behind on their deadlines or even experiencing a physical drain.

This is why learning to say ‘no’ is so important… Use the tips below to help you remain assertive when being asked a bit too much.

Know your limitations. Decide beforehand what is acceptable for you and what is not. If you are prepared to work someone else’s shift no more than twice a month, keep to this. In other words, stick to your guns.

Just say no.
Instead of skirting around the issue and coming up with weak excuses, simply say: No, I am unable to do that. If the asker continues, repeat your phrase. Drop a word or two off of your phrase (e.g. No, I am unable), and if he or she continues, again drop a few words until you’re left with just ‘No’.

Anticipate responses.
Think about what reaction you are likely to get and plan accordingly. Know the facts and be ready to quote them when necessary.

Stick to the issue, keep it impersonal.
You’re not saying no because you don’t like the person, you’re saying no because you don’t have the time, or because you are being taken advantage of, or because you haven’t slept more than three hours a night for the past week. Therefore, keep the conversation on topic and don’t blow your top shouting about how you’re always being asked to do things and how no one ever even thanks you…

Staff Training is presenting Assertiveness Training in February across South Africa. Email or call (021) 839 3021 for more information.

Read more on: work

Read Women24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.