Most people have suppressed their true feelings to avoid conflict at work. “When you need to have a difficult conversation with someone, it’s best to be prepared,” says Jackie Gaines, Wearing the Yellow Suit: A Guide for Women in Leadership “Having an idea of the actual words you plan to use ahead of time makes the experience easier and will help you feel calm and in control during the discussion.”
Below are four examples of “respectful truth-telling” that you can add to your assertiveness toolbox. Once you have some experience speaking your mind while still being respectful to the other person or people, you will find your own words to use. But for now, here is some language to get you started.
Situation: How to say “no”
- “No, but thanks for thinking of me.”
- “I am not comfortable with that.”
- “Your timing is not good; maybe another time.”
- “Thank you for this opportunity, but this really does not work for me right now.”
- “This is not the right direction for me. Thanks anyway.”
Situation: Asking for what you want
- “I am confused. Can you help me understand?”
- “Excuse me, can I have ______?”
- “I could really use your support in ______.”
- “Can we talk about an area where I need some additional support or resources?”
Situation: Response when you are put down in front of other people
- (Privately) “Can we discuss what happened in the meeting today? When you said ______, it made me feel ______.” (Remember to discuss only how their remarks made you feel. No one can take that away from you.) “I would have appreciated if it could have been said to me in private if you are concerned with my performance. Thank you for listening and allowing me to share.”
Situation: Seeking common ground
- “I can see why you believe the way you do. I am concerned about that too. I want the same things as you do. My solutions are different from yours because I came to believe something new from these particular experiences.”
“Assertiveness is an art form that you can utilize and refine throughout your career,” concludes Gaines. “Although you might still be judged negatively by some for being direct and bold at any time, when you are diplomatically assertive, you are more likely to get what you want.”
About the Author:
Jackie Gaines is the author of Wearing the Yellow Suit: A Guide for Women in Leadership. She is an award-winning senior executive with more than 40 years of sustained leadership experience. She dedicated most of her career to the advancement of quality healthcare programs throughout the U.S., helping organizations improve their leadership skills and performance. Today, Jackie works for Studer Group|Huron as an executive-level coach, senior director, national speaker and best-selling author.
About the Book:
Wearing the Yellow Suit: A Guide for Women in Leadership (Huron|Studer Group Publishing, 2020, ISBN: 978-1-62218-110-0, $24.00) is available directly from the publisher at publishing.studergroup.com, at bookstores nationwide, and from major online booksellers.