How to be assertive and likeable at the same time

‘A NO uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a YES merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble’

Mohandas Gandhi

Being able to be assertive and yet still be likeable is perhaps the greatest challenge that we face in the modern workplace. If we are not able to be assertive, then we lack the ability to create firm boundaries, and we absolutely have to be able to create firm boundaries in order to succeed in the workplace. However being assertive does not have to be at the expense of being likeable; it is possible to be both.


Referring again to “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, Dale Carnegie offers the following six principles:  as they work through the points

Become genuinely interested in other people

“People are not interested in you. They are not interested in me. They are interested in themselves – morning, noon and after dinner.”

And, to prove his point Carnegie asks:

“When you see a group photograph that you are in, whose picture do you look at first?”

Carnegie suggests that you can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you

How can you express more interest in your colleagues?


Smiley Faces

“Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says ‘I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.’”

You may think this is obvious. But is it? Have you noticed how many people hardly ever smile? Have you become so serious that you have forgotten how to have fun? If so, lighten up and if you don’t feel like smiling then fake it. Start with a fake smile and eventually it will turn into a real one. In NLP we refer to this as acting ‘As If’.

Try it now. Just turn up the corners of your mouth….that’s right…… and smile, now.

And, when you return to your workplace, if you see one of your colleagues without a smile, remember to give them one of yours!

Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language

“We should be aware of the magic contained in a name and realize that this single item is wholly and completely owned by the person with whom we are dealing…and nobody else. The name sets the individual apart; it makes him or her unique amongst all others.”

Carnegie points out that one of the simplest, most obvious, and most important ways of gaining good will is by remembering names and making people feel important. However, even when we do remember a person’s name we often forget to address them by it.

Make a point of using your colleagues’ names when you get back to your workplace. Pay attention and notice the impact that this has on your communication.

 Be a good listener. Encourage other people to talk about themselves.

“If you want to know how to make people shun you and laugh at you behind their back and even despise you, here is the recipe: Never listen to anyone for long. Talk incessantly about yourself. If you have an idea while the other person is talking, don’t wait for him or her to finish: bust right in and interrupt in the middle of a sentence.”

The above statement would be almost laughable if it weren’t for the fact that we all know people who conduct themselves in this way. Furthermore, how many of us, hand on heart, can honestly say that we haven’t been guilt of this type of behavior at one time or another.

People like people who are interested in them. So quit trying to impress your colleagues and be impressed by them. If you want to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. Ask questions that your colleagues will enjoy answering; the best questions are those that will lead them to remember a positive experience.

 Talk in terms of the other person’s interests

Talking in terms of the other person’s interests pays off for both parties.”

Be interesting by being interested. Make the effort to find out what your colleagues are working on and take an interest. This is the best way to gain other’s interest in you and your work.

Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely

Carnegie advocates that the best way to make people like you instantly is always make the other person feel important.

William James said

“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

How can you make your colleagues feel important? By building Rapport with them, by stepping into their model of the world, by being respectful of that model of the world, by seeing things from their point of view and then by applying all of the above principles.

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