Any emotion that you WANT to experience more can become more natural if you play the role, or practice it, more often. Let’s look at assertiveness.
In assertiveness, you are able to stand up for yourself or your position from a place of confidence. When you practice assertiveness, you are more likely to get your own needs met and your questions answered without anyone else “losing.”
For example, do you ever find yourself in a situation where someone asks, “Are there any questions?” and no one speaks? But you have a ton of questions? Guess what – it’s very likely that others have concerns or questions similar to yours, but no one wants to be the one to extend the meeting or admit they aren’t completely clear. 99% of the time when someone asks a good question, other people in the room feel relieved because THEY are confused about the same issue, but could not find the courage to raise their hands. When you do, you will be seen as a little bolder, a little more confident… and you’ll often affect how things roll out.
Or how about when a manager says, “we need a couple people for this task force?” Do you think, “It will be a waste of time. I don’t have the energy.” Or do you raise your hand to get involved?When you say Yes to small opportunities, there is risk, e.g. you can mess up, fail, get blamed for what’s not working, and have extra stress in your life. On the other hand, there is an upside: you’ve also just put yourself in a situation where you can influence the final decision, learn something new or learn it before others do, make new contacts outside your primary job, and get experience being a spokesperson – all benefits of being assertive!
You can’t win if you don’t play.
The Ohio Lottery for years has used a marketing tagline that says, “You can’t win if you don’t play.” So get in the game. Start small. Speak up in situations within your team before you stand up in front of the next all-company meeting. Or maybe volunteer for a short-term project team to get your feet wet before you try to get on that six-month task force. Practice, practice, practice pushing yourself out of your comfort zone in tiny ways, even at home or in your community.
And then notice how much stronger your assertiveness muscles become. Notice how others start to look to you to be their “voice” in confusing situations. See how your willingness to take little risks can help you be more comfortable taking big ones. And finally, notice how those are all leadership behaviors that will help you in all areas of your life.
Remember: Leadership is not about a title. Anyone can be a leader who practices even a bit of risk-taking and uses their personal capital to help improve the culture or conditions in the workplace. And the more you stretch your assertiveness muscles, the more you grow.
Jim Smith, PCC, is The Executive Happiness Coach®. He is an international speaker, executive and life coach, and author. He provides his clients with inspiration and practical tools to live a happier life and build more positive work cultures. He is the author of Happiness At The Speed of Life: 13 Powerful Strategies for Finding Happiness at Home and On The Job, and has touched the lives of over 10,000 people worldwide through his work on Positive Emotion and Leadership. You can connect with Jim at theexecutivehappinesscoach.com.