Communication is at the heart of all successful relationships. Understanding how to effectively exchange knowledge, share ideas, and translate information is vital to one’s ability to connect with others in meaningful and compelling ways. Mastering communication in the workplace is paramount to the success of one’s career. An inability to communicate with coworkers, leaders, and team members demonstrates a clear lack of critical elements professionals must possess like self-awareness, empathy, and openness. If, as an administrative assistant, you feel you have become a good communicator who is ready to take those skills to the next level, it’s time to start flexing your assertive communication muscles.
In our previous blog that focused on how to become a more assertive assistant, we explored the ways in which assertive attributes can benefit you in the workplace, examined when to employ them, and demystified the nature of assertive behavior. That blog is a great starting point to begin understanding what it truly means to be assertive and how that trait can benefit you professionally. In this week’s blog, we’ll zoom in on assertive communication and how you can expand your more assertive demeanor to include how you connect and speak with your team.
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The Art Of Assertive Communication
The art of communication is so nuanced, so complex that it creates a wide space where in things can simply go wrong. Learning how to avoid roadblocks and potentially explosive landmines will help you learn how to navigate this space much more intelligently and thoughtfully. Watch out for these communication killers on your journey toward becoming a more assertive communicator:
- Failure to pay attention: When you are speaking with someone at work, the first thing you need to do is ensure you are locked into the conversation and giving it your full attention. That’s one of the fundamentals of professional respect. Always lead with listening! Be present in the moment and take in everything your teammate is trying to communicate to you, whether it be through verbal or nonverbal communication. Be on the lookout for body language that may indicate they are uncomfortable or frustrated. Listen for verbal cues that may indicate the same, like a shift in tone or heavy sighs. Stay engaged throughout the conversation and be sure to ask questions often to confirm your understanding. After the conversation, take the time to digest everything. Don’t try to do it while the other person is speaking.
- Lack of focus: Have you ever been in a work conversation where you or the other person jumps constantly from topic to topic? In those conversations, you’re never able to fully address or reach closure on any one topic. Instead, you lightly touch on a multitude of topics without ever covering anything fully. This trap serves as a huge time suck, offers little resolution, and prohibits productivity. Instead of allowing lack of focus to drive your conversations, take the lead and stay on topic. You can use simple phrases like, “Let us get back to…” or “You were saying…” to refocus the conversation and stay on task.
- Forgetting you’re talking to a human: In the age of artificial intelligence, let’s remember our seemingly mundane conversations hold something powerful. They represents two human beings connecting with each other. That’s powerful stuff! When you’re speaking with a team member, remember that fact. Show interest in them as a person. Consider their viewpoint. Apply some personal attention, and you’ll find you’re building better, stronger work relationships. This doesn’t mean you have to “get personal” with them, it simply means that you should take time to listen to their thoughts, opinions, positions, and ideas. Making someone feel heard can go a long way toward strengthening communication.
- Making assumptions: A good rule of thumb for every professional is just don’t assume anything. Instead of plugging in our own meaning into someone else’s side of a conversation or trying to read between the lines, ask for clarification. Don’t waste the brainpower or time to try and fill in what you think they meant or were actually trying to say. Just ask them! This will serve two purposes: allowing you to build a stronger relationship with them and avoiding the problems that assumptions often create.
- Lack of follow through: When you say you’re going to do something, whether that be complete a task, conduct research, or relay information to someone else, be sure you do it. Think of it in the most fundamental terms: If you say you’ll do something – DO IT! Lack of follow through can be a communication killer! If you consistently fail to do what you said you were going to do, your team will lose faith and trust in you. If something changes that affects a promise you made to someone else, be proactive and communicate that to them. This will keep them in the loop and make them feel like you honored the conversation and value their relationship.
- Being too timid: For some, it can be easy to follow the instinct to stay small and keep quiet. This tact, however, will prevent you from embracing the full power of communication. Use your voice and don’t be afraid to speak up. In the same way, if you’re communicating with a team member you can tell is being timid, try to create a safe space for them to feel more relaxed. Use open ended questions and give them the opportunity to speak freely. This approach can be a conversation stimulator by allowing space they may not have realized existed. You become more empowered every time you empower someone else.
- Respect the power of language: The way we share our thoughts and ideas is vital to the overall success of the communication. Generally speaking, avoid stuffy or pompous language in casual conversation. When someone feels as if you might be trying to talk down to them, they’re likely to check out of the conversation or dismiss whatever it is you’re trying to convey. Focus on keeping your language concise and impactful.
- If you can prepare, you should prepare: We have plenty of conversations at work that happen organically and don’t require forethought or planning. However, we also have a lot of communication at work that happens in pre-planned meetings. If you’re going to attend a meeting, make sure you go in prepared and well-educated. This helps enrich and deepen the conversations you’ll have there. It will also demonstrate to leaders that you take your role seriously, and you’re invested in the success of the company and your team.
Embracing these tactics will elevate your professional communication skills. When we master higher levels of communication, we can bring that to so many different facets of our working lives. From casual hallway conversations with coworkers to group presentations for organization leaders, stellar communication can be one of your most formidable business assets. When done well, you’ll find that assertive communication has the power to open new career doors, help you achieve your dreams, and positively impact others. Those are huge wins!
Let Me Say This
If you’re ready to flex your assertive communication muscles and become a powerful voice in your workplace, Office Dynamics can help. We developed a huge library of resources called the Success Store that focuses on helping executive assistants master all the key functions required in their role, become strategic partners with their leaders, and reach incredible levels of professional success. The Success Store includes a massive library consisting of books, certification courses, eBooks, live virtual training, and on-demand training that can help assistants level up and reach new heights in their careers. But we don’t stop there. The Office Dynamics menu of services covers every single element an administrative assistant needs to continue their journey towards becoming a star. You’ll find a vast array of training options, both in-person and virtual, that will help you grow in your career. We’re proud to be the lions of the administrative training industry and feel our deep experience and expertise are vital pieces to our own success. We love helping assistants grow. Click here to learn more!