Thirty years after women became 50% of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are not being equally heard. Communication experts agree the clearest, most productive and most effective way to communicate is honestly and openly, which is assertive communication. Women who communicate in a direct and clear manner are viewed more favorably in the workplace.
This is the first article is my Assertiveness Series. Below are all the topics we will discuss.
1.) Confidence – The Root of Being Assertive
Article 1: Confidence – The Root of Being Assertive
The term “assertive” is used to describe a communication style that is respectful of others but clear and firm in intent. Assertiveness is sometimes confused with aggressiveness – being rude, hostile, blaming, threatening, demanding, or sarcastic. Assertive communication does mean standing up for yourself but doing so in a way that does not trespass on the rights of others and respects your own rights. When you communicate assertively, you communicate honestly but appropriately. Assertiveness is often correlated with good self-esteem and confidence.
In essence, the root of assertive communication lies in your own personal confidence.
I think it is safe to say that we’ve all experienced a confidence issue at one time or another in our lives. Even if we feel fairly confident in some areas, in other areas of our lives we have less. When we are confident in something, and in ourselves we subconsciously portray that to others by the way we communicate verbally and non-verbally. When we believe in ourselves and what we stand for and what we are doing, people see that and we attract others in a positive way. Haven’t you noticed the attraction factor of confidence? The confident woman or man has attractiveness about them. We want to follow them, be around them, and learn from them.
For some reason, men do not fall into the self-confidence trap as much as women do. Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, in her famous Ted Talk on why there are too few women leaders in the workplace talks about how women systematically underestimate their own abilities. She says women just don’t negotiate for themselves in the workforce. She cites statistics that 57% of men negotiate their first salary out of college and only 7% of women do. And men attribute success to themselves and women attribute their success to outside factors. If you ask men why they did a good job, they say, “I’m awesome”. If you ask women they did a good job, they cite factors outside of themselves.
No one gets the promotion if they don’t believe in themselves.
What we can take away from this is that we need to believe in ourselves and truly believe we have what it takes to have a seat at the table. If at our core we believe we are capable, then our communication style will show that.
When I was a new-grad engineer at my first company, there was a middle-aged cocky Test Engineer who just didn’t seem to take me seriously. From his communication with me, I got that he thought I was just a cute 20-something year old girl and I really didn’t feel like he treated me like a professional. The last straw for me was he gave me a cute nickname that I didn’t really appreciate. And he would call me by this nickname frequently. It really bothered me, so I took my first aim with assertive communication in the workplace. Of course, being more of a passive-type, I couldn’t handle face-to-face contact for this conflict, so I sent him an email explaining in a very assertive way that I was a professional and expected him to treat me that way and that meant to address me by Sandra only. That’s all it took. From then on he treated me like a professional. My opinions and ideas were respected.
By believing in yourself and portraying that to others, your career will soar incredibly.
The best tip I can give you on breeding inner confidence was given to my by a fellow career coach. She said to write, “I am more than enough” on a sticky note and read it daily. What we put into our mind we will eventually believe. I hope this article motivates you to pay attention to your inner confidence level. If you feel it isn’t high enough then take some action to fill it up.
I’d love for you to share what you do to help fill up your confidence tank!