Assertively Lead Up by Larina Kase, PsyD, MBA
- State the priorities. For example, “I understand that project A is a priority and that it is due on Friday. In order to get the results we need on that one, I cannot take on project B this week. If there’s still a need for work on project B next week, I’d be happy to lead it.”
- Be direct and do not over-explain. If you start explaining too much you’ll reduce your credibility and appear to be defensive and offering excuses.
- Refer to your track record. For example, “You and I have both been pleased with my performance to date. You know that I’m not a slacker and my saying no is because I’m working on being strategic and not taking on more than I can successfully accomplish.”
- Ask for your boss’s support. This sounds strange, but it is of the “If you can’t beat them join them” approach. Say, “With increasing demands on my time, I’m concerned that the quality could decrease. How do you suggest we handle this?” Saying “we” is critical. This approach is very effective because your boss co-creates the solution and will, therefore, need to support it ongoing.
- Calmly state your position referring to evidence. You don’t want your boss thinking that you’re simply emotional or unable to handle stress. It is crucial that you remain calm and highlight specific objective examples.
- Be aware of your body language. Even if your boss is intimidating, look her in the eyes, sit or stand up straight, and maintain a serious facial expression while making your request. This will enable her to take you seriously and respect your assertion.
- Take responsibility. Do not say “You give me too much work,” because saying “you” will put her on the defensive. Instead take responsibility for your response and request.
- Express empathy for your boss’s position. Empathy is the most important characteristic in your ability to influence others. Your boss will best understand you if you express understanding for her. This will also allow you to collaboratively come to solutions.
- Don’t back down from the boundary you established. For example, if you told your boss, “I will be taking a personal lunch today for 45 minutes and won’t be accessible except in a true emergency,” and midway through your lunch your boss calls your cell, don’t answer it. Let her leave a message. If it is truly urgent, call her back and if not, touch base when you get back to the office.
- Benefit your boss. Go out of your way to find opportunities to make your boss or other authority figure’s life easier. They will appreciate this and reciprocate.
It may take some time and practice to start to see changes. The key is that you are consistent in your efforts and that you project confidence, empathy, and self-assurance.
© Dr. Larina Kase. Performance & Success Coaching. Larina Kase, PsyD, MBA is the New York Times bestselling author of The Confident Speaker and her latest book, The Confident Leader: How the Most Successful People Go from Effective to Exceptional. Learn how to expand your comfort zone and confidence level at PAS Coaching.
For more suggestions related to designing your professional presence for success, you will want to access the Get a Plan! Guide® to Deliberately Designing Your Professional Presence, which is part of the Get a Plan! Guides® series. The Get a Plan! Guide® series will give you the ideas and inspiration to do your work easier, faster, and in a more focused fashion – so that you can accomplish your goals more smoothly, i.e., peacefully, productively, and predictably.