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Why assertive communication is important at work

13 Mar 2023

Assertiveness in communication allows people to speak up for themselves in a proactive way and is one of the key qualities that anyone aspiring to succeed in their career must acquire.

Employees who are assertive are confident in voicing their opinions, suggestions, challenges, and desires in a direct and honest, yet respectful and diplomatic manner.

This communication style, however, can be tricky. It is not a natural skill we have, and it can be difficult to be assertive all the time. Some may struggle to get their opinions heard because they lack the confidence to speak up or feel that being assertive will make them seem too insistent, forceful, or pushy. Sometimes, it is an employee’s personality that makes it difficult for them to stand up for themselves. There are also work cultures that prefer people to be passive and may view assertive behaviour as rude or controlling.

Knowing how to be assertive helps employees to get their points across without becoming upset and without upsetting others. This is a critical skill when it comes to working with fellow employees and customers and getting things done. If employees communicate in a way that is too passive or too aggressive, their message may get lost because people either do not hear it or are too busy reacting to the way it is being delivered. While it is essential for employees to be able to speak their mind, it is also crucial for them to be able to do so without being rude and argumentative or just passively accepting other people’s unwelcome requests or preferences.

Fortunately, assertive behaviours can be learned and practiced. This can be done through assertiveness training, which helps employees to create positive outcomes from their interactions. Employees could start practicing assertive communication by experimenting with small steps at first until they find what works for them. A little assertion at the right time can be a highly effective way of developing an individual’s confidence and self-esteem.

The purpose of assertiveness training in the workplace is to provide numerous benefits to employees and employers alike, including the following:

  • better relationships and more positive outcomes when interacting with others

  • better employee engagement, job satisfaction, and overall wellbeing and mental health

  • improved productivity

  • better customer service

  • clearer communication

  • easier delegation of tasks and responsibilities

  • better conflict resolution

  • better decision making

  • increased psychological safety

  • a fair work environment

  • reduced stress and anxiety

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