6 Ways You Can Be More Assertive in the Workplace

As seen in Self Magazine

It can be intimidating (to say the least!) when it comes to sharing your ideas with colleagues and higher ups — especially if you are someone who is on the more introverted side. The good news: you don’t have to change your personality in order to have your voice heard.

We caught up with Sara Garibaldi, SVP, Director of Brand at Ketchum — who was also recently listed on PR Week’s 40 under 40! — to get her tips on how to better assert yourself in the work place.

“Nobody expects you to be someone you’re not, so don’t change your personality,” says Garibaldi. “However, as you advance in your career (in some fields more than others) being vocal in meetings, sharing a valuable opinion and ensuring it’s heard and even being social with colleagues and clients, exudes confidence, assertiveness and gives them a better glimpse of who you really are.”

Unfortunately being quiet can often get misconstrued as being disengaged or uninterested. Don’t let a naturally quiet demeanor send a message that isn’t fair or accurate about you, advises Garibaldi. Welcome a little discomfort and move out of your comfort zone…even if you begin with small steps!

Here are 6 tips to refer to when you’re ready to break out of that shell.

1. Speak in headlines. When sharing an idea or expressing your thoughts, try to think of the headline you want to communicate in advance and stick to that when relaying your message. This little trick will help you to share your thoughts concisely and clearly, without rambling. It also helps you to make your point with more assertion. Another important point to remember is to be careful not to end a statement with a questioning tone, as that comes across as you having doubt in what you’re communicating.

2. Body language speaks volumes. Maintain good posture and keep eye contact with whomever you’re communicating with as it exudes an overall feeling of confidence both in what you are saying and the person that you are.

3. Be present. Being there doesn’t always mean you’re present and in the moment. Demonstrate that you’re completely in the moment by fearlessly listening, acknowledging cues in a conversation, and asking for clarification when you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It shows you’re unafraid to both acknowledge you didn’t understand something and get the insight you need.

4. Express mea culpa. There’s nothing that exudes more confidence than being honest in your mistakes or mishaps. Acknowledging when you’ve made a mistake demonstrates your self-assurance and your willingness to learn from it.

5. Be proactive. Demonstrating you can think ahead confirms to everyone around you that you’ve got the present work under control and are a capable employee.

6. Welcome the uncomfortable. Don’t skirt around issues – address difficult conversations head on and don’t misdirect blame. Being real and down-to-earth in how you confront an issue will lead to a lot of supporters and is a true demonstration of self-assurance.