Naughty or Nice: Being More Assertive in the Workplace

One of the easiest traps to fall into for both new leaders and seasoned professionals is being too nice. While embracing kindness in relationships with employees and peers is a virtue, being overly nice leads to taking on more work than you can handle and disregarding your own needs for work-life balance. Simply put, unassertiveness can cultivate burnout, resentment, and disengagement.

According to a study, 82% of workers feel burnt out at work; whereas 43% of leaders say office morale is low due to overwork. Moreover, 49% of employees say they left their jobs citing being overwhelmed by their workload as the number one reason. To avoid burnout, low morale, and turnover, it’s important to create a culture of open communication and healthy assertiveness in the office with yourself, as well as your employees.

Take an Inventory of Your Work Habits

When stuck in the daily grind, it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees. Sometimes being to close to a situation makes it difficult to understand problems that may develop over time. So as always, the first step in overcoming passivity in the office is to analyze yours habits and behaviors to determine if you struggle with being overly nice. Take an inventory of your work habits. Do you tend to take on more work than you can handle? Do others lean too much on you for completing projects? Do you struggle with delegating to your employees? Do you work after hours and weekends on a regular basis? If the answer is yes to a few of these, you may struggle with being the office push-over. Here are a few tips to help you overcome these issues and be more assertive in the workplace!

  1. Establish Boundaries

For salaried employees, as well as leaders, you don’t necessarily have the same luxuries as contractors or hourly employees to leave work at work. However, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is key to avoiding burnout in the office and ensuring longevity in your job. Establish boundaries as to when your team can contact you and when your phone and computer will be powered down.

  1. Communicate Your Workload

One issue that overly nice professionals deal with is the feeling of being taken advantage of. However, in many instances, co-workers and employees don’t realize they are giving you more spinning plates when you’re at your limit. Be clear about what is on your project list with your team and what you can and cannot take on.

  1. Learn to Say No

Even if it’s a “not now” as opposed to a “hard pass,” learning how to say no and decline work is key for you and your team’s success. A yes-man doesn’t do any favors for others by taking on more than he or she can chew. And when overworked, quality is one of the first things to suffer.

  1. List Priorities

While some projects may be critical to some, they may not be on top of your priority list. When determining what work needs to be added to your plate, distinguish between the “must haves” and the “nice to haves.” Anything critical to you or your organization needs to be a top priority; whereas, work that can wait, needs to be placed on the backburner for the time being.

  1. Create Margin

When you learn to say no and protect your time and energy, you can now make space in your schedule to be able to say yes to a special project or to help a co-worker in need. To be a more accessible leader, creating margin is a key step in allowing time to be used in a more healthy, meaningful way.

Understanding Your Limits

It may be difficult to say no to work that needs to be taken care of or to decline help to others who need your expertise on a specific project, but you can do more harm than good by over-extending yourself. By working through the root causes of being overly nice, establishing boundaries, and working to create a culture of assertiveness in your life, as well as the office as a whole, you will lay a foundation that is more suitable for sustained success.

What do you do to ensure you aren’t overworked? How do you avoid being overly nice in the workplace? Let us know in the comments section below!

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