Assertiveness – are you a good lawyer for yourself?


one caucasian lawyer man in studio isolated on white backgroundAre you a good lawyer for yourself? Can you articulate your opinions, your emotions, and your needs while demonstrating respect to other people? If yes, you possess a great skill – Assertiveness. Assertiveness 
involves communicating feelings, beliefs, and thoughts openly, and defending personal rights and values in a socially acceptable, non-offensive, and non-destructive manner.

Picture a line between the words passive and aggressive: At the middle point of this line lies assertiveness, a place where you work with others by finding the right words at the right time to express yourself.


Advantages of being assertive 

People who have the skill to find the right words at the right time to get their point across in a clear and confident manner are seen as self-confident. They allow others to see where they stand on a decision or on the matters at hand. They have a better chance to achieve their goals by articulating their needs.
At the same time they view the rights and opinions of others as sacred and in this way foster relationships.

What if you are too passive on the assertiveness scale? 

Scared business man hide himself under the office deskThe tendency to keep your thoughts inside may lead you to feel exhausted, frustrated, or even angry that you are on your own dealing with your unvoiced opinions. You may ruminate over bad decision your boss made, the “crazy” plan that someone created, or that coworker who took credit for your work. It’s as if all this occurred without your approval or your input, and yet you are left wanting to say so much. You could also be seen as lacking initiative, particularly if you are low in independence. Your great ideas may stay hidden from your team and as a result you will not be as enthusiastic about others’ ideas or committed to following their directions.

What if you are too aggressive on the assertiveness scale?

Businessman shouting through megaphoneIf you tend to pull on strong emotions and convictions to state your position, you may miss important information or feedback that may alter your perspective. If you easily cross the line from assertiveness to aggressiveness, you might be seen as stubborn, or arrogant lacking flexibility in your thinking. This can result in unproductive behavior and damage relationships.


Strategy to develop if you are too passive 

Overcoming Fear.

A common reason for overly passive behavior is the fear of losing something as a result of speaking up. Identify the last three times you were passive (meetings are great places to start). Then, brainstorm all the possible:

1. Positive and negative results that could have occurred had you been more assertive.
Most of our fear comes from an exaggeration of bad consequences.

2.  Think of situations when the good consequences outweighed the bad.

3. Identify when similar situations will be occurring in the future. These will be relatively safe opportunities for you to practice being more assertive.

Strategy to develop if you are too aggressive

Crossing the Aggression Line.

If you have a rather strong assertiveness, you need to be particularly cautious that your behavior doesn’t work against you or harm your relationships.

1. Set up a few rules for yourself that you will follow when your behavior starts to cross the line into aggression. For example, interrupting others in a meeting is a sign that you are no longer being respectful. If this happens, a rule could be “Openly apologize to the interrupted person and be silent until it is your time to speak.”

2. Seek feedback from a trustworthy person. How did this person view your way of communicating?

Working with a coach will facilitate the exploration and developing process. Book a 30 minutes free complimentary session to test how coaching for Emotional intelligence works.

Self-expression – Are you a poker face or an open book?

Man Being StrangledWhat do you usually do with your emotions? Do you bottle them up and put on a poker face? Or do you wear your heart on your sleeve, being an open book for others and expressing all your emotions fully? Or maybe you are one of those who know how to express emotions to the appropriate extent and at the right moment.

The ability to express 
one’s feelings verbally 
and non-verbally is called Emotional Expression. Individuals who effectively express emotions find the right words and physical actions to convey their feelings in a way that is not hurtful to others.

If you tend to bottle emotions inside and not share them with others, you can create the illusion either that you are emotionless or that you do not grasp the significance of the situation. Your less expressive style may mean that in new environments you could struggle to engage others in a meaningful way.

If you express your emotions too frequently, you can quickly overwhelm your colleagues by sharing too much emotion at the wrong times. People usually tend to bottle up their emotions because of their fear of being rejected or of hurting others. To overcome this fear, ask for feedback after you express your true emotions and thoughts.

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By expressing your emotions you give yourself permission to be heard and seen. This means being a good lawyer for yourself and fostering your self-regard. Successful relationships flow from a willingness to openly exchange thoughts and feelings. Sharing how you feel about a decision or issue helps improve team communication and decision making, resolves interpersonal conflict, and helps you gain the resources that you need.
One strategy to develop effective emotional expression is an “Expression Monitor”:
1). Practice self-reflection daily to monitor to what extent you express your emotions and feelings. Measure your ability on a scale from 1 to 10. Where are you on this scale today? Where on the scale do you want to be? What do you need to do to reach the score you desire?
2). Observe the “Ripple Effect” of your emotional expression. How do people react  to your words or behavior? Do they tend to withdraw after you express yourself? Do they pay little attention to it? Or does your message come across as you intend it to?
3). Use your findings from the self-reflection and “Ripple Effect” observation to develop your emotional expression. Increase or reduce the “volume” of your emotions. Learn from situations when your expression lands well.Become “Emotionally Smart” by making emotional expression an effective tool for communicating your thoughts, needs and and values.

Emotional Self-Awareness is a foundation of Emotional Intelligence

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Emotional Self-Awareness is the ability to recognize and understand one’s own emotions. People with this competence are able to identify subtle differences in their emotions and know how their emotions affect their behavior, decisions, and performance.

If you are unaware of what is going on inside of you, you can’t influence or change it. But by consistently practicing the skills of emotional self-awareness, you will get great insights about your own world and will be able to change it to your benefit.

You will benefit greatly by knowing “Who, what and why pushes your buttons”. This strategy will help you to take control of the situations when you are provoked or overpowered by your own anger, frustration, or fear. To practice this strategy, turn on the “Radar” of Emotional Self-awareness in order to:

1). identify moments when your “hot buttons” are pushed;
2). recognize which situations,  circumstances,  and/or people push your “hot buttons”;
3). understand the cues for your emotional reactions by reflecting on your expectations, beliefs, and values.

Become “Emotionally Smart” by paying attention to the signals of your self-awareness.

Self-regard is the spinal cord of your emotional intelligence

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Self-regard is respecting oneself while understanding and accepting one’s strengths and weaknesses. Self-regard is often associated with feelings of inner strength and self-confidence. 

If your self-regard is strong, you can take criticism constructively and use it to your own benefit. If your emotional spinal cord is buckled you will feel emotional pain from time to time and it will impact your emotional well-being.

One of the strategies to keep your emotional spinal cord straight is to “own up to your weaknesses”. Although challenging, openly admitting your weaknesses can help keep your self-regard in check with how your other people see you.
  1. Record your reaction to any mistakes or errors you make over the next few weeks. If you find yourself blaming “the system” or others for your mistakes, you might want to start openly admitting your points of weakness.
  2. Rather than placing blame, use mistakes as opportunities to show you know and accept your weaknesses and put in place strategies that manage them, rather than pretending they don’t exist.