Let me start off by clarifying the last point that I made in the previous post:
“When you act assertively, you take the positive elements from aggression and submission – aggression in dealing with unnecessary obstacles, submission in accepting necessary limitations and exercising self-control”.
This statement can be rather confusing because we all have our own definitions of aggression and submission. What positive elements can be taken from aggression? Urgency. Have you ever noticed that when a person is aggressive, he/she does not hold back on words or actions? Aggression comes with a sense of urgency – urgency to get things off your chest despite possible consequences. Adopting a sense of urgency while you act assertively, will help you in the long run. How? Well, if your boundaries are not respected, learning to adopt a sense of urgency in communicating when such happens, is key. That urgency will help you address the issue as soon as possible. This, balanced with submission is a perfect recipe. Submission does not mean being a doormat and allowing one to treat you terribly. Submission does not only mean yielding to the authority of another person, but it also means the ability to exercise self-control – withholding your thoughts and views that may not be helpful in that exact moment.
According to Reader’s Digest’s “How to write and speak better”, assertiveness means ‘approaching situations expecting to negotiate with others as an equal; being aware of your own rights, but also being prepared to listen and respond to other people sympathetically. The result should be an easier, more productive, and less stressful life.’
While it may be daunting to approach your manager, try to make the most of informal meetings. You might be reading this and saying to yourself, “Ruth has no idea what my manager is like. Why, on God’s green earth would I want to have an informal meeting with my manager?”
I get it, not every manager is fun, but use such moments to get to know one another outside of the daily communications that only exist because of the famous sentence “have you submitted that report I asked about the other day?”
This does not have to be a planned lunch or a day at the beach (I know you’re cringing just reading this). This could be a coffee catch-up in the canteen or a walk through the office building – or just another Zoom call, if you work remotely (sorry, you’re not really spoilt for choice there). Allow your manager to get to know you, not just the monster that you are between 8am and 4pm. You may also get to know that your manager is going through a tough time, hence the flames of hell that keep coming at you every week.
Most of the time our behaviour is a result of something that we are going through, good or bad. It is in these informal settings that you will learn that. Do not rely on office gossip to shape what you think your manager is like. Gossip, more often than not, is misinformation. So, if you base your knowledge of them on that, you’re in for a very bumpy ride. Be proactive in building a meaningful relationship with your manager.
Remember, baby steps. It will not all get solved in one magical informal meeting. It requires a lot of work, just like any other relationship.
Don't just talk about it, be about it.