How to be assertive

Being assertive in any job is vital. Imagine the shop owner unable to say no when asked for a discount. Or the admin clerk who ends up doing everyone’s copies at the printer. Or the shop assistant who keeps covering the shifts of one (or more) of their colleagues.

In each of these instances the effect of not being able to say ‘no’ is bound to have a detrimental knock-on effect in the individual’s work, be it a loss in revenue, falling behind on their deadlines or even experiencing a physical drain.

This is why learning to say ‘no’ is so important… Use the tips below to help you remain assertive when being asked a bit too much.

Know your limitations. Decide beforehand what is acceptable for you and what is not. If you are prepared to work someone else’s shift no more than twice a month, keep to this. In other words, stick to your guns.

Just say no.
Instead of skirting around the issue and coming up with weak excuses, simply say: No, I am unable to do that. If the asker continues, repeat your phrase. Drop a word or two off of your phrase (e.g. No, I am unable), and if he or she continues, again drop a few words until you’re left with just ‘No’.

Anticipate responses.
Think about what reaction you are likely to get and plan accordingly. Know the facts and be ready to quote them when necessary.

Stick to the issue, keep it impersonal.
You’re not saying no because you don’t like the person, you’re saying no because you don’t have the time, or because you are being taken advantage of, or because you haven’t slept more than three hours a night for the past week. Therefore, keep the conversation on topic and don’t blow your top shouting about how you’re always being asked to do things and how no one ever even thanks you…

Staff Training is presenting Assertiveness Training in February across South Africa. Email or call (021) 839 3021 for more information.
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Do you think it's important to get married in this day and age?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, it's important in order to create a family unit and for companionship
22% - 550 votes
Not at all. Being single is far more liberating
9% - 235 votes
There is no general answer to this, it's each to their own
49% - 1208 votes
Yes, society still frowns on unmarried people, especially women
1% - 36 votes
It depends on whether you are able to find a compatible partner
18% - 446 votes