Protecting Your Precious Time Made Easy
Part 3 of 3
Steal Back Your Time with This Key Element of Effective Communication
Feeling confident in the workplace and therefore being able to communicate effectively is not only beneficial for your mindset and wellbeing, it can also drastically improve your job performance, working relationships, and help you solve problems and overcome frustrations at work. One of the biggest frustrations we all experience at some point in our careers is people trying to steal our precious time.
In today’s article, we will explore how, through effective communication, you can steal back your time.
The Key to Effective Communication
Communication is a complex topic, with many different factors that can affect how well you communicate and how your message is received and perceived, including:
- Tone of voice
- Facial expressions
- Choice of language
However, one aspect of communication that 85% of people struggle with is confident and assertive communication.
What Does Being Assertive Really Mean?
Oxford Dictionary defines assertiveness as a “forthright, positive, insistence on the recognition of one's rights”.
In the context of the workplace, being assertive means being able to set barriers and stand up for your own rights in a calm and respectful manner. There is a fine line between assertiveness and aggression:
- Being assertive means valuing and voicing your wants and needs while remaining considerate of others’ rights, needs, wants, and feelings. When you’re assertive, you use your confidence to firmly but fairly get your point across.
- Being aggressive means always wanting to ‘win’ by doing what’s in your own best interest with little to no regard for the emotions, needs, or desires of others. When you’re aggressive, you use your confidence in a selfish way to get what you want at any cost.
While the two, by definition, seem very distinct, they are often confused.
For example, your manager may give you a pile of work to do 5 minutes before you should be leaving work and tell you that it needs to be done immediately, and think that they are simply being assertive. However, by giving this work to you at the last minute, at an inappropriate time, and with no consideration for your rights or needs, they are likely to be seen as being aggressive.
On the other hand, if you remain calm and politely inform your manager that whilst you understand that the work needs to be done and that it is important, you will complete it tomorrow so you can give it your full attention and not rush it, that is being assertive - polite yet knowing your rights and not letting your manager cross boundaries.
When Do You Need to Be Assertive?
Whilst assertiveness should be common practice in your day-to-day work, there are certain situations where it is particularly important, including:
- Setting boundaries and expectations
Being assertive when setting boundaries and expectations is crucial for ensuring that they are understood and respected by your peers.
- Addressing conflict
When conflict arises in teams, it’s important to voice your perspective but in a calm, professional and polite manner.
- Voicing concerns
To make sure that your concerns and worries aren’t simply dismissed, it’s essential to stand your ground and explain why these concerns do matter.
Why Learning to Be More Assertive Should Be Non-negotiable in the Workplace
Being assertive is a key skill for anybody in any role; it is a transferable skill and can help you get the most out of your career by enabling you to stand up for yourself and be a strong, clear, confident and effective communicator.
Assertiveness is especially useful for:
Assertive managers are fair and considerate, and are therefore usually much more liked and respected by their employees.
Assertiveness allows you to see both sides of an argument or conflict, find common ground, and negotiate a fair compromise.
Being assertive gives you the self-confidence and empowerment needed to be a great problem-solver and have confidence in your decisions.
Being passive and ‘going with the flow’ too much can make people feel like they can make unreasonable requests as they know you will always get things done, even at your detriment.
How Assertiveness Helps You Steal Back Your Time
Assertiveness is key to protecting and stealing back your time as it allows you to confidently say ‘no’ to people. There is a big difference between saying ‘no’ and confidently saying ‘no’; confidently saying ‘no’ means that people are much less likely to try to push and persuade you to say ‘yes’. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy and means that you are more in control of your own time because:
- How you spend your time isn’t dictated to you by others, it’s your decision.
- People are less likely to try to ‘rob’ your time again in the future.
When you say ‘no’ to somebody, there are several ways your ‘no’ could be interpreted, including:
- They may think you just want to avoid work
- You may seem ‘difficult’ to work with
- Or, if done correctly, your ‘no’ could be understood and respected
Making sure that your ‘no’ comes across in the correct way is fundamental to protecting your precious time whilst preserving your working relationships and others’ feelings.
Want to Improve Your Assertiveness and Ability to Confidently Say ‘No’?
As with any skill or competency, there are many different ways to improve your assertiveness, including online courses, researching why people struggle to be assertive, or professional training.
Completing a professional training programme can not only improve your assertiveness but also improve your career as a whole. If you’re interested in professional training, have you checked out our Level 3 Leadership and Management Apprenticeship?
This programme consists of 8 modules including ‘Enhanced Business Communication Skills’, which covers:
- Developing communication styles and approaches
- Building assertive relationships
- Defining and using emotional intelligence
- Effectively managing meetings
To download our Level 3 Leadership and Management Apprenticeship brochure, please click here or click the button below this article.
If you’re looking to improve your ability to say ‘no’, be sure to join us for our free webinar ‘Learning to Say ‘No’ to Further Your Career’ at 10:30am on Thursday 5th August.
This webinar will help you:
- Understand what is stopping you from saying no
- Learn a four-step approach to saying no
- Practically plan how you will put this into action
We hope that this article helps you steal back your precious time by being assertive and learning to confidently say ‘no’.
Until next time...