Monday, 10 June 2019

How to be more assertive at work, by Sarah Jones, Sarah-J Coaching

Do you ever worry that you’re not being taken seriously at work? If you doubt yourself, then this can come across in the way you speak and present yourself. The key to being heard and taken seriously is assertiveness.

What is assertiveness?

Assertiveness is the ability to express yourself confidently, with respect and consideration for others in the conversation. Assertiveness takes confidence, tact, and thoughtfulness.
In an attempt to avoid being passive, people often mistake assertiveness with aggression, but this is not what being assertive is about. Being the loudest person in the room does not make you the most assertive. Assertive individuals know how to get the point across without being intimidating or dismissive.

How to be more assertive

At a very young age I found myself as one of the only women on a board for one of the world’s largest logistics mergers. This was pretty intimidating and it would have been so easy to convince myself that I wasn’t qualified to be there. But I was qualified, and I needed to show that.
I had to learn quickly how to maintain my assertiveness in this situation. I developed the following ideas in response and they have helped me countless times since.

Come prepared

The best way to speak with authority on a topic is to make yourself an authority. Learning and preparing as much as you can will help you speak and act with assertiveness.
Admittedly, this isn’t a quick-fix. It takes work. This may involve preparing for a big meeting with notes for every possibly contingency, or generally learning as much as you can about your industry. Identify the gaps in your knowledge, the areas where you feel uncomfortable or less confident, and build upon those areas.

Don’t rush in

If someone asks you a question or comes to you for your opinion, it can be easy to panic and rush in with an answer, any answer. It is better to take a deep breath and really consider what you’re going to say before you say it.
Taking your time and being thoughtful with your responses won’t make you appear unsure or timid. Just the opposite really; it conveys confidence and poise. If you don’t have an answer at the moment, be honest and explain how you plan to find an answer. Honesty and authenticity will garner you a lot more respect than ultra-quick answers.


Being assertive is not just about what you say and how you say it. In order to respect others in the conversation, it is important to listen to them and understand their opinions. Incorporating other’s information and points of view into your responses makes a great impression on your peers. Assertive individuals will listen without interrupting others or responding in a rude manner, even if you disagree with them.


Being assertive involves being confident, thoughtful, tactful, and prepared. Boost your assertiveness by doing your research, taking your time with your responses to others, and by being an active listener.
Could you be more assertive at work? I provide coaching tailored specifically toward assertiveness and confidence in the workplace. Get in touch if you are interested

What it really takes to succeed, by Sarah Jones, Sarah-J Coaching

In this day and age, with celebrity news, YouTube adverts, Instagram images… it’s easy to think that success often happens ‘overnight’. However sometimes ‘overnight’ has meant several years of hard work, and what we see is the end result.
Especially if you are reaching for a different way of life, or goal – rather than just the next step forward. This is where breaking down goals into manageable chunks is important because you can take a step-wise approach, rather than facing a huge mountain of a goal!
So back to ‘overnight success’ let’s look at some famous successful people, and what it took them to succeed:
  • Sly Stallone was sleeping in his car and even had to sell his dog when he got his first substantial movie part. He bought the dog back by the way!
  • Seuss’ first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected by 27 publishers. The 28th publisher sold six million copies of the book.
  • Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and started a business called Traf-O-Data which failed, but the rest is history.
  • Oprah Winfrey is one the richest and most successful women in the world but had many career setbacks and was fired from one TV presenting job as she was told she was unfit for TV.
  • Sidney Poitier won an Oscar and became a very respected actor but was once told to stop wasting his time in acting and go and wash dishes.
  • Harrison Ford was told by many famous executives that he didn’t have what it took to make it in films.
And these are just a few examples, and I’m sure if you look at your life to-date you can see the twists and turns that’s taken you to where you are now.
I’ll cover just a couple of traits or characteristics that successful people demonstrate:
This means adapting to setbacks, rolling with the punches and course correcting rather than being completely put off but setbacks. In fact setbacks can be positive experiences if you choose to see them that way – great opportunities learn, reflect on what you want, and recalibrate how you get there.
Pay off…again in similar vein to resilience it’s about keep keeping on. Not be put off by difficult situations, or giving up because it’s hard work, or too hard. Keeping a picture of the end in mind will help. Keep going until you hit on an idea or thought that’s going to work.
Managing negative mind chatter
Our minds can go into overdrive with negative thoughts and patterns that can run riot in our minds. There are many tools and techniques where you can re-train your brain and create new neural pathways that are geared for success
Many successful people are self-aware. They are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and don’t overestimate themselves. Yes confidence is important but not when it tips into arrogance. This means you can seek help where you need it, and aware where you really add value. Successful people also tend to use techniques to help develop and maintain self-awareness such as meditation, quiet time and solitude, keeping a journal and practising gratitude.
Avoiding procrastination
It takes work. By all means outsource tasks where you can, especially if it’s not your core skill set – but really no-one is going to do this for you – if you want something, you have to put the effort in. Otherwise, you’re kinda daydreaming.
So I’ve just covered a few aspects of what contributes towards success, there are many more. However, a lot of it is mindset. To find out more about anything mentioned in this blog, or the techniques visit my coaching programmes page and the MindNav® programme:
If you’d like to contact me directly, feel free to get in touch with me here.