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Jennifer Newman: How to stand up for yourself at work

Do you struggle with being assertive at work? Workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman has some tips.

Employees who are appropriately assertive tend to do better in the workplace, says Newman

Being assertive in the workplace is a necessary skill, says Jennifer Newman (Getty Images/Image Source)

It may be one of the more daunting aspects of workplace culture, but standing up for oneself can be a key to success on the job.

Workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman spoke with the Early Edition's Rick Cluff about when and how to be assertive at work.

Why is it good to stand up for yourself in the workplace?

When you deal with being mistreated by someone at work, you are standing up for yourself. It also comes down to situations like negotiating your salary and benefits. Sometimes workers have to account for their results.

Being assertive means you are exercising a sense of control. It's psychologically healthy, rather than passively accepting something that doesn't feel right.

Jennifer Newman says employees who develop skills at being assertive often go further in their jobs. (Jennifer Newman)

Even if the eventual outcome is not ideal, employees can feel satisfied that they did something to represent their viewpoint

How do workers hit the right balance between being a doormat and a bull-in-a-china shop?

Remember you are trying to stand up for yourself by being direct without stepping on other people's rights or attacking their dignity.

For example, situations such as this may arise:

  •   If someone pressures you for an answer:

Say: I'd like to take some time to think it over.

Rather than attacking them for bugging you.

  • If a colleague seems to be ignoring your calls:

Say: It looks like you are really busy, when can I have a minute?

  • If something isn't fair:

Say: That's not going to work, how can we share the load?

Rather than passively taking things on and getting swamped.

But sometimes standing up for yourself doesn't seem to change anything, so why bother?

At the end of the day, assertiveness reinforces resiliency. It's about trying to improve things somehow, not about getting our way every time.

Are there times when being assertive can backfire? Might you lose your job if you argue with colleagues or customers?

If a worker is aggressive there is a likelihood they will lose their job. Assertive workers, though, tend to get ahead.

They are viewed as trustworthy, easy to get along with and able to deliver. Workers who know when to be assertive and how, tend to do better.

To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: Being assertive on the job.


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