Communicating assertively to achieve ‘Win-Win’ outcomes

By: Cathy Marinacci, 29 April 2021 Categories: Learning, development & personal growth

Have you ever agreed to compromise with a colleague or a client, thinking it will bring the best achievable outcome for both parties, to be left feeling disappointed later because you only managed to get part of what you set out to achieve?

Or perhaps, you’ve managed to get everything you wanted, but you think you might have damaged the relationship along the way because in hindsight, you pushed too hard?

These are not uncommon scenarios – most of us have been there at some point in our lives. However, is there is a way to achieve more of a “win-win” outcome whilst keeping the relationship intact?

One element of our leadership development programmes focuses on assertive communication, which aims to support participants to reach mutually acceptable outcomes in their professional interactions by acknowledging and expressing that both parties have rights and needs. It’s about balance – a “win” for both sides.

When we are assertive, not only do we get more of what we want, we enable others to do the same, which in turn reduces conflict; benefits our relationships and creates more success at work.

Some practical tips on how to be more assertive include:

  • Be sure of your value and rights – be convinced of your own value to enable you to stand your ground with confidence.
  • Use empathy – consider the value and rights of the other person to help you avoid being pushy or demanding.
  • Prepare and practise your script – use “I” statements such as “I feel strongly…” or “I chose this option because…” to communicate with conviction.
  • Be receptive to others’ ideas and feedback – realise true collaboration by applying an open mind. Ask yourself: “Am I prepared to flex here and on what?”
  • Ask questions – clarify points you’re unsure about, particularly if you’re dealing with a technical expert, who may assume your level of knowledge equals theirs.

Often confused with assertiveness is aggression, a behaviour which demonstrates little regard for the other person’s needs, rights, desires or feelings. In extreme cases, aggression equates to bullying, where a “win” may satisfy a short-term goal, but usually leads to a deterioration in the relationship. Use knowledge of your personality style (see Juniper’s podcast on DISC personality profiling) and the associated default behaviours to overcome a tendency either to dominate or submit in a situation where assertive communication would serve both parties best.

Discover more tips in Juniper’s first ever podcast, one from the archives!

Assertiveness is a skill to be learned and honed. Practise on smaller ticket items first – you may surprise yourself by the results you achieve, and you may also surprise the person you’re interacting with, particularly if they are used to a more aggressive, or submissive approach from you. So what’s stopping you?

We’d love to hear about your successes!

Link to podcast :