Assertiveness is a word that has been bounced around boardrooms for a long time now. Most companies offer their staff some sort of training on how to be more assertive. But does it actually work? Is it even needed? And why is it still so popular? It doesn’t seem to be going away, so if you are interested in providing assertiveness training for your staff you might like to learn a little more about it first.
What is Assertiveness?
Assertiveness is the ability to communicate your feelings, whether they are positive or negative, in a non-emotional and non-confrontational way. Some people are too passive, that is to say they find it difficult to say what they really think, and others are aggressive, meaning they are too forceful in putting their opinions across. Assertiveness is a happy balance between the two where one is able to communicate what they are feeling without making other people feel uncomfortable.
How Does Assertiveness Training Work?
Assertiveness training employs a number of techniques in order to let participants try various approaches to a situation. The most important one is role play – this is a safe space in which to explore possible outcomes to a problem.
In a confidential workshop environment, delegates are able to discuss their struggles with dealing with difficult people. They can analyse behaviour and discuss the best way to handle it. For example, if someone is being particularly aggressive towards you, the temptation is to be aggressive back to them (a technique which is called mirroring). However this will only fuel the fire. By remaining calm, diplomatic and reasonable you are able to diffuse a situation. It is very difficult to be aggressive towards someone that is smiling at you!
Assertiveness training will make you look at your communication skills and identify any words or phrases that you use that are ineffective. The subtleties of the English language mean there are hundreds of ways of saying the same thing. You will be able to reflect on your communication skills and see if there is any room for improvement (there always is!).
Who Would Benefit From Assertiveness Training?
Absolutely everybody! You should insist that every member of staff undertakes this training. It is brilliant for self-reflection and analysis, and everybody could do with a bit of that from time to time. We deal with people every day, yet we spend very little time working on how we do this. Assertiveness Training will make for a more harmonious office and more confident staff. Assertive people don’t spend time moaning behind closed doors – they deal with the problem and move on. So there will be far less whispering and gossip going on.
Participants will be taught how to deal with compliments without getting terribly embarrassed. They will also be taught how to handle criticism in a balanced way. They will also be taught how to get the result that they want without pushing and shoving.
What Should My Company Look For in an Assertiveness Course?
Choose a training company that is well-known and respected for their work in the business sector. Their instructors should be experienced and qualified, and they should be able to provide testimonials from previous clients. If you are in any doubt, ask if you can contact their previous clients for a discussion about how helpful they found the workshops. If you are looking to train all of your staff in assertiveness then there will be great cost associated, but if every member of staff got a day’s training it would certainly be enough to see a huge difference in the office.
Aki Hashimoto is a writer and blogger who specialises in professional career development. She writes for http://www.dramaticsolutions.co.uk, a drama-based training and development company.