Becoming More Assertive

Michele Warg
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As an executive assistant, you must be comfortable being assertive with your colleagues and visitors to your office. Unfortunately, some assistants shy away from being assertive because they confuse assertiveness with aggressiveness. Being assertive actually builds confidence, improves self-esteem and reduces stress, making it a skill you must master for success in your field. Follow these tips to become a more assertive executive assistant.

Share your opinion with colleagues. Don't be the executive assistant who is afraid to speak up during meetings or conference calls. As long as you share your opinion in a respectful way, your boss should appreciate your input. Sharing your opinion might even lead to improvements in certain processes or procedures, saving everyone in your department a lot of time.

Resolve conflict instead of avoiding it. As an executive assistant, you must be able to address conflict in a professional manner. Keeping your feelings bottled up just increases anxiety and resentment, making it difficult to foster collaboration and a sense of teamwork. If you want to think about your response, don't let the situation drag out for weeks. Assertiveness training is an option if you have trouble addressing conflict directly.

It's not unusual for an executive assistant to have a lot of projects that must be done "as soon as possible." To avoid the stress associated with juggling multiple projects, all of which have a high priority level, ask your boss to give you deadlines for each project. If you know your boss needs presentation slides on Tuesday and the monthly budget report on Thursday, you'll have an easier time planning your schedule and prioritizing your work.

An assertive executive assistant does not accept inappropriate behavior from managers, colleagues or subordinates. If someone in your department is constantly interrupting you to chat about personal topics, let the person know you are on a deadline and need to concentrate on your work. If a department member regularly asks you to perform duties that are not part of your job description, talk to your boss. You don't want to be the employee who says "that's not my job," but you need to handle such requests firmly so other employees do not think you are available to do their work for them.

If you have a problem with someone in your office, address it with that person. Doing so gives the person an opportunity to give her side of the story or apologize to you for the misunderstanding. If you tell someone else about the problem, there's a chance your confidant will blab to other people in the office, starting a chain of gossip that leads to hurt feelings and reduced productivity.

Without the right level of assertiveness, it is difficult to excel in the executive assistant role. If you are unable to implement these tips on your own, consider attending an assertiveness training workshop to build your confidence and make it easier to handle conflict.

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  • Sylvia Cuellar
    Sylvia Cuellar

    I can use this training. Sylvia Cuellar

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