Though it may seem like the safest option, a passive approach to workplace communication can have negative implications. Keeping your head down can indeed make you less vulnerable to office backlash. However, it also closes off many opportunities to move up the career ladder.

Staying passive will make you seem uncertain, unconfident, and indecisive. But by speaking up and making yourself heard, you can effectively express yourself while also getting what you want. Simply put, you have to learn to be assertive.

Assertiveness Needs Balance

However, it’s worth noting that being assertive does not equate to being aggressive. As you may know firsthand, passiveness involves avoiding confrontation by putting the desires of the dominant party above your own. Meanwhile, aggression is more about dominance—an intention to impose your will and force others to submit.

When compared to a balanced and assertive approach, both of these extremes are equally disrespectful and counterproductive. After all, ineffective communication hampers personal relationships, whether you’re at home or at work.

Plant a Seed of Confidence

However, even an expert course will teach you that learning to be assertive isn’t as simple as finding the middle ground. For people used to acting passively, it may be harder to properly understand assertiveness.

After all, if you’re used to passivity, making simple demands of others may feel overly aggressive. Therefore, it’s important to start by bolstering your confidence. Here are some quick ideas to get you in the right mindset:

  1. Value Yourself

To become more assertive, you have to learn that your opinions, needs, and desires are just as important as everyone else’s. This can be harder to achieve if you’re more concerned with disappointing your peers.

As long as you act with courtesy, you shouldn’t hold yourself responsible for how people react to your statements. Provided you don’t violate someone else’s needs, you have the right to do what you want without having to apologize for it.

  1. Speak Your Mind

Don’t rely on other people to recognize what you need. People can’t read your minds, so you better get used to speaking for yourself.  Not saying what you’re thinking and relying on indirect hints is classic passive aggression—behavior that you want to avoid. To get what you want, you have to ask for it.

To minimize confusion, keep your statements short and direct. Don’t meander and get straight to the point. You might also have people whose needs clash with yours, but this is something that negotiation won’t solve. Having an honest dialogue is more productive than waiting for another person to catch your hints.

  1. Respect Your Colleagues

Negative emotions may be seen as unprofessional and have no place at work. However, anger and frustration are normal human emotions. Sometimes, they’re even necessary to get the best performance from your colleagues.

However, it’s still important to control your emotions and be courteous. It’s okay to be angry as long as you avoid hurting another person’s feelings. If you feel like you’re getting lost in the heat of the moment, take some time to cool your head off. You should always be in control of a situation while still commanding a reasonable amount of respect.

Reap the Rewards

You won’t accomplish much if you lay low and keep your head down. Nurture your confidence by embracing an assertive approach to communication. This allows you to better engage with people and get the best out of any opportunity.

Assertiveness is more than just an important personal quality. It’s a vital skill that will allow you to advocate for yourself, achieve your goals, and overcome your obstacles. Master it until you can use it to put your career on the right track.

By Eddy

Eddy is the editorial columnist in Business Fundas, and oversees partner relationships. He posts articles of partners on various topics related to strategy, marketing, supply chain, technology management, social media, e-business, finance, economics and operations management. The articles posted are copyrighted under a Creative Commons unported license 4.0. To contact him, please direct your emails to [email protected].