If you opened this article, chances are, you consider yourself shy. But you also want to be able to stand up for your rights and get what you want. You’re probably sick and tired of having to please everyone. Perhaps, you want to be able to say “No” next time your boss asks you to work overtime on your date night, or when a customer or user expects you to go for 24 hours without food or sleep in order to fix a minor problem. Or maybe you’re frustrated because you can’t seem to get a word in during meetings, what with all your boisterous officemates dominating the discussion. You then console yourself by telling yourself that they won’t believe what you say anyway, or they just can’t understand your views even if you were able to speak up. Perhaps you’re a manager, and you have a hard time imposing your policies or standards on your people – you tolerate their unacceptable performance or else, make up for their shortcomings yourself. All of these situations cause you STRESS and FATIGUE, not to mention lower productivity.

What do you do? Take vitamins? Go to a spa? Find another job? While these may give you some relief, you will still meet these stressful situations in your life. You need to find a more effective way to deal with them – – you need to change the way you relate to others. But you might say, I’m shy and that’s just the way I am, I can’t change my personality! Well, I’m not asking you to change your being shy. You can be shy (which by the way is not necessarily bad) and still be assertive.

Here are some tips to becoming more assertive and still be “nice”:

Respect yourself as well as others. You are a worthwhile person just as other people are. Your thoughts, feelings, opinions, needs and desires are just as valid and important as other people’s. Your knowledge and abilities have earned you the position you are holding in the company. Don’t put yourself down. Take your rightful place in the company!

Know your role in the organization. That way, you know what to be assertive about and when to be assertive. You may need to work with your boss on this one if it’s not clear. Sometimes, there seem to be conflicting demands on your function, for example, as customer service agent, you are told to delight your customers all the time, but you also have to handle x number of transactions per day. What do you do with the request of a VIP customer that will take you the whole day?

Practice openly communicating how you feel and what you think. Start with simple and less threatening situations like giving a compliment or telling your friends where you’d like to go for lunch, before working up to asking the boss about your promotion!

Rehearse. If you have to face an intimidating situation, try to imagine how you would assertively behave, as if watching a movie where you are handling things in a cool and confident way, expressing everything you want to say and countering objections effectively. You can also role-play the situation with a friend.

By being assertive, you can be your best “you” and live a more satisfying life!

By Jean Lim, PowerVision

About the Author:
Jean Lim is a career counselor and trainor. She has been an IT professional for over 20 years, working with various companies such as Unilever Philippines, Andersen Consulting / SGV, and NCR Corporation. Through her company, PowerVision, she shares practical wisdom combined from her management experiences and her counseling work. PowerVision offers seminars, counseling and coaching services to enlighten and empower people to be their best in their lives and careers. She will be completing her Diploma in Christian Counseling by March 2005.