The importance of assertiveness in our overall wellbeing

Following on from the recent world Mental Health Day, Wellbeing & Leadership Manager @ Wrkit, Jason Brennan, explains that it is important to take time out to reflect on our overall mental health and wellness and what might be contributing to ongoing areas of unwellness.

One key area of wellness is healthy communication and the ability to confidently speak out about what is important to us, what is affecting us emotionally and psychologically and what might be contributing to our not being heard. This is the important skill of assertiveness.

Assertiveness is defined as:

  • Someone who is being assertive behaves confidently and is not frightened to say what they want or believe
  • Being assertive means being able to stand up for your own or other people’s thoughts, feelings or rights in a calm and positive way, without being either aggressive, or passive in behaviour

Assertiveness is standing up for ourselves and our personal rights by expressing our thoughts, feelings and beliefs in a direct, honest and appropriate way. By being assertive we need always to respect the thoughts, feelings and beliefs of other people and in so doing we are promoting an I’m OK, You’re OK philosophy – respecting the worth, value and dignity of ourselves and others.

Being able to communicate effectively means

  • Slowing down
  • Figuring out how we feel
  • Exploring why we feel this way
  • Understanding what relates to me and what relates to not me (others or external situation)
  • Think about how to influence the external
  • Create a plan to execute
  • Consider context for contact (where and when to talk)

Part of our plan might be to communicate and explain to others what is happening for us and how they might be contributing to this and to work on a plan to change and improve the situation.

Some tips to being assertive are –

REFLECTION:

  • Understand how we feel and why we feel this way
  • Manage our emotions with clear thoughts
  • Maintain self-control in how we want to share these insights

EXPRESSION:

  • Express ourselves through this reflective understanding
  • Choose to speak out and be heard considerately and appropriately (avoid blame)
  • Encourage two-way openness
  • Ok to disagree, assertiveness is about self-expression

CONGRUENCY:

  • Listen and respond to others point of view appropriately
  • Admit to mistakes and apologise if appropriate and helpful
  • Treat others as equal – I’m ok, You’re ok
  • Feel good about having activated the skill of assertiveness and understanding

Author: Jason Brennan, Wellbeing & Leadership Manager @ Wrkit

International Women’s Day

March 8th marks international women’s day, an annual celebration to commemorate women’s strength, achievements and legacies. The theme of this year’s celebrations is Balance for Better, promoting gender balance and equality across the world and different industries. While diversity and inclusion initiatives are top priorities in most organisations these days there still remains a significant gender gap at C-level with less than 5% of CEO positions in Europe and the US held by women.

Top level female representation is not merely a question of ethics but rather about business success. Research demonstrates that organisations with diverse leadership teams outperform those that do not. In fact one study conducted by Boston Consulting Group found that organisations with leadership diversity generate up to 19% more revenue.

Fostering an environment where everyone can achieve their full potential is no easy feat however there are practices which help women and men progress in their career, while maintaining a balanced life.

  1. Bias training – unconscious bias exists in many forms within the workplace. Providing bias training will help raise awareness of the issue and ensure adequate measures are in place to help overcome the challenge.
  2. Change the long term hours norm – in a recent article about resilience training I touched on the mounting evidence that long days should become a thing of the past. Changing the attitude toward long days will open up greater opportunity for career driven parents and provide better work life balance for mothers and fathers.
  3. Offer paid paternity leave… and enforce it – Gender equality works both ways. Offering and enforcing paid paternity leave encourages better work life integration for male employees. It also helps to close the gap which is often opened when mothers take time off to rear children.  
  4. Focus on inclusive leadership programmes and sponsorship – having a diverse pipeline is half the battle. Encourage female participation in leadership development programmes and ensure that the right people are sponsoring female candidates (sponsors with influence).  
  5. Celebrate female achievements – share the stories and experiences of your female high fliers to inspire others. Celebrate their journey and achievements and leverage their role model image to attract new female candidates to aspire to C-level.

Increasingly, employees are expecting organisations to have truly diverse and inclusive cultures. As the war for talent heightens those who are slow to change will lose.

Author: Sara Glynn, Marketing & Customer Success Manager@ Wrkit

References:

https://www.internationalwomensday.com/
https://www.ft.com/content/1090105c-fb7b-11e8-aebf-99e208d3e521
https://www.bcg.com/en-us/publications/2018/how-diverse-leadership-teams-boost-innovation.aspx
https://wrkit.com/blog/2019/02/13/resilience-training-reducing-stress-or-masking-the-problem/
https://hbr.org/2007/09/women-and-the-labyrinth-of-leadership
https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/human-capital/hc-2017-global-human-capital-trends-us.pdf
https://hbr.org/2010/09/why-men-still-get-more-promotions-than-women