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Is assertiveness the key to less conflict at work?


You’ve probably heard of assertiveness. Though, have you ever thought of it as a way to lessen conflict within your team? When Jane and Marc argue during a meeting or you notice Julie never speaks up for herself, have you ever thought “If only they were more assertive, this wouldn’t happen”. If not, you might be missing something.


Being assertive lets people clearly communicate their needs, wants and opinions in a way that is considerate of others. It’s a way to encourage your staff to have more open, honest dialog and when this happens people have more respect and regard for their peers.


This table illustrates perfectly what we’re talking about here.


  You They
Assertiveness Win Win
Aggressiveness Win Lose
Passive Lose Win


Conflict stems from all sorts of reasons (from something that wasn’t said to something that wasn’t understood) though healthy communication is a way to reach clarity, equality and fairness.


If Julie was more assertive, she would tell Fiona that she already has several deadlines and cannot deliver a piece of work for Fiona, at the moment.  This encourages Julie to have more boundaries and therefore less stress and helps Fiona understand that she may have to delegate the work to someone else or not have it when she initially preferred.


Here’s how an assertive Julie would behave:


  • Speak to Fiona with clarity, with the intention of exuding mutual respect
  • With no intention of hurting Fiona and no intention of getting hurt
  • Look for an understanding of the situation and a solution (rather than being right, or winning).


As a result, Julie would feel good because she’s maintaining her boundaries (and probably keeping her stress levels low!) and if Fiona is assertive in return, the situation would be a win-win.


If you notice conflict lurking around in your team, it might be time to remind your staff members that communicating assertively is the way to go, and how to best do it.


If you want a hand, we provide assertiveness training for organisations. Click here to find out more.



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