We all have things that we want from our work. It maybe a promotion, more job satisfaction or just getting on better with the person at the next desk. Some people achieve job satisfaction without seeming to put in much effort. Their secret is that they have developed several key personal skills that help them to get what they want. In this article we will consider two of the most important skills that will help you to manage your career.
Confidence is about having a feeling of certainty and self-belief. If you do not appear to have confidence in yourself, other people will not have confidence in you. Often people confuse confidence with being an extrovert. You do not have to be big and brash – quiet confidence can be equally impressive.
The first step is being able to greet someone confidently. The best way to do this is to smile, make eye contact, offer a firm handshake and say hello. You then need to practice sounding confident. Speak clearly, decide what you want to say in advance and focus on what the other person is saying. If you are expecting a particularly nerve-wracking conversation then try to practice it in front of a mirror or role-play with a friend.
Confidence is largely a matter of practice. Go through the motions a few times and it will start to become habit. Before you know it you will project a confident image and feel more confident than before.
Assertiveness is a skill that few of us are born with. When you are being assertive you are balancing between submissive and aggressive behaviour.
Submissive behaviour - If you are too submissive you never disagree with someone openly and many of your best ideas will never be aired. Submissive behaviour may work for those around us but it will not work so well for you.
Aggressive behaviour – Being aggressive may get you what you want in the short term but it is likely that you will find yourself locked into arguments more frequently. If you are hurtful to others they are more likely to be hurtful to you.
Four key ways to become more assertive include:
1. Showing respect - If you think that you are naturally more aggressive then submissive this is one for you. Showing respect for others is all about demonstrating behaviour that you would like to receive back. Ways that show respect for others include:
- Allowing others to have an opinion without criticising unfairly
- Learning how to give constructive criticism
- Speaking calmly when you disagree with someone rather than raising your voice
- Giving encouragement when someone does something well
2. Expressing your feelings – If someone makes you feel angry, hurt offended, sidelined or humiliated, the assertive response is to tell them so. If you do not tell them how will they know?
3. Being honest – If your natural tendency is towards submissiveness, you will find it hard at first to state your opinions and feelings clearly. However, once you start doing so you will be surprised how much easier it is than you first thought. If you are more prone to be aggressive, you may be honest to the point of being blunt or even rude. This is something to watch out for and you will need to practice picking your words carefully.
4. Standing your ground – If you find that you are constantly being pressured to change your opinion you need to learn how to assert your position without becoming defensive or emotional. First you need to tell the other person how you feel so if you are feeling pressured tell them so. Secondly you can adopt the “stuck record” approach. State your position and repeat as often as necessary. It is only a matter of time before the other person gets the point.
If you can master the art of appearing confident and asserting your opinion you will be well on the way to taking control and managing your career. The hard part is putting the theory into practice you may slip up on the way but, as the writer Albert Hubbard remarked, “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one”.