A few of the lovely freelancers in my Facebook community have kindly agreed to contribute some guest posts while I’m busy with my biggest project yet – looking after my newborn son! I’m so excited about Hayley’s post below on being assertive as I know it’s a topic a lot of freelancers I know struggle with. Have a read, then let me know in the comments how you plan to be a little more assertive. 

shareasimage (30)Why is that on some occasions you have absolutely no issue in saying exactly how you feel and standing your ground, yet on others you walk away wishing you’d been able to say no, share what you really thought and just been little more assertive? Sometimes the word “assertive” can be negatively mistaken for dominating conversation, always getting your own way or always being right. But in reality isn’t assertiveness really about having the confidence to ensure your opinion is heard, feeling like an equal in the relationship and being able to state your case where necessary?

So here’s 5 tips that will help you to assert yourself more confidently and with real authenticity in those more difficult moments

1. Remember that power comes from within!

Job status, seniority, wealth are all typically things people associate with power. But if you base your definition of power on external factors then what happens when these elements are stripped away? Seeing power as coming from within, sourced from your strengths and your experience, allows you to feel powerful at any given time and making you less likely to feel intimidated by those who may try to use their seniority, status or even wealth as power over you. If you feel less powerful with certain individuals or in certain situations, spend some time exploring what it is about these particular people or occasions. Think about the actions you could take to prepare yourself beforehand in order to feel more confident.

2. Use neutral language

If you find it difficult to give negative feedback or share how you feel about something for fear of upsetting others, then try using objective language. You’ll find this makes the conversation much less personal for the individual on the receiving end and stops you from feeling as though you’re attacking them. Avoiding judgemental terms such as “You should / you shouldn’t” or “You make me feel” or “I’m disappointed ” and replacing them with more neutral phrases such as “When I hear the words ….. the impact is that I feel……it would be helpful for me if” will make the conversation feel less confrontational.

3. Think about the other perspective

Before proposing new ideas or sharing alternative viewpoints, try to think about how the other person may receive the information. Think about their current situation, what else may they be dealing with and when would be a good time for you speak to them. By spending time understanding things from their perspective, you’ll find it easier to anticipate potential objections or reactions. This means you can confidently plan your response or solutions in advance. It will also help you choose your words and approach to the conversation, meaning you’ll come across with greater confidence and be able to influence more effectively.

4. Be clear on your own values

When you know what’s important for you, your own work ethos and what you expect from other people then you’ll feel more confident in dealing with issues that don’t align with your values. If you work with people regularly then letting them know what’s important for you and finding out the same from them will help you to ensure expectations are clear on both sides.

5. No doesn’t mean never

Saying no can be difficult as you don’t want to let others down but often this can end up with you taking on more than you want or can handle. However, saying “no” doesn’t have to mean “NEVER” but simply “not right now”. Next time someone asks you to do something or sets a deadline that isn’t really feasible for you, try proposing a different timeframe or offer to help with as much as you can do in that time instead. This way you’re still helping but it’s an agreement between both of you. After all they need your help so if they want it, they need to be flexible! Think win: win ; collaboration not compromise. And never be afraid to ask for time to reflect! Sometimes taking a little time out to process your thoughts can instantly give you a sense of power and confidence. You don’t always need to have the answer straight away!

Hayley Wintermantle is a Career Development Coach who helps women step up in their careers, step out into work that aligns with their passion and strengths and truly step into their own. For support, guidance or to find out more about this globe-trotting foodie you can find her at http://www.hayleywintermantle.com.

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