This article is the second in our workplace conflict series. It outlines effective assertion skills that you can use to address problematic behaviour by co-workers, which can be detrimental to your mental and emotional health, and interfere with your ability to do your job. The previous article can help you determine whether asserting yourself is appropriate in a given situation.
There are three rules of thumb to keep in mind when crafting an effective assertion. The first is clarity. Conflict thrives on misunderstanding. Therefore, stick to the situation in question, and do not embellish the details! Give the other person as close of a play-by-play of the situation as possible to minimize room for interpretation.
Next comes the â€śI statementâ€ť. Notice the difference between â€śwhen you interrupted me I felt irritatedâ€ť and â€śit was very rude of you to interrupt meâ€ť. You are the sole expert on your feelings, but itâ€™s very difficult to accurately pinpoint where another person is coming from. So keep your comments about you to ensure that your assertion doesnâ€™t inadvertently put the other person on the defensive.
Thirdly, you want the other person to know how their behaviour has impacted you. This shows them that there are reasonable grounds for your response, and reminds them that there are consequences to their actions. Drawing on the above example, our complete assertion looks like this â€śwhen you interrupted me I felt irritated because I didnâ€™t have an opportunity to get my main point across.â€ť
The example weâ€™re using here is a pretty basic one. If youâ€™re dealing with more complex situations, itâ€™s a good idea to also approach the conversation equipped with a possible solution. But just as you are hoping the other person will be open to seeing the situation from your point of view, be prepared to do the same for them if they come up with an alternative solution that seems like a step in the right direction. That said, know what you are and are not willing to compromise. And if an effective solution canâ€™t be reached, donâ€™t be afraid to let the other person know that you will be addressing the matter with your manager.
Follow these easy steps and youâ€™ll be handling workplace conflict like a pro in no time!