6 ways I learned to practice assertiveness at Amazon
During my first few weeks at Amazon, I asked my then-boss what format to use for a VUI deliverable. Their response was to nicely ask what I had done in my previous role. Dang — that was not the response I was expecting. I thought that there would be a standard I needed to adhere to.
What a gift their response was. Their response reminded and encouraged me to lead instead of follow.
How would I ask that question now?
I’d approach the situation by saying something like:
“…this is how I put together my design deliverables in the past, is there a standard at Amazon that I should follow instead?”
A far more assertive way of asking the same question. This shift offers the chance for a richer conversation and creates the opportunity to take my learnings and improve their process — something consistently stressed during orientation.
It can be easy to fall into the habit of asking others what to do or looking to someone else to provide possible solutions. But, as an assertive individual, it’s important to take the initiative and come up with solutions yourself. By doing so, you’ll not only be seen as a valuable team member, but you’ll also be taking ownership (leadership principle) and showing bias for action (leadership principle) to find solutions or a path forward.
Here are a few more ways to practice assertiveness in the workplace:
Communicate clearly: Speak in a confident and direct manner, using “I” statements to express your own thoughts and feelings. Be honest if you don’t know something and offer to go find out.
Practice active problem-solving: Suggest solutions when discussing problems or concerns, instead of just complaining. Come to the table with ideas prepared when possible.
Be confident: Believe in yourself and your abilities, and don’t be afraid to speak up or take initiative. It’s not about being right all the time, what you say may spark an idea for someone else.
Listen actively: Listen to others, acknowledge their perspective and avoid interrupting them.
Set boundaries: Learn to say “no” when necessary and to speak up when your boundaries are being violated.
Seek out feedback: Ask for feedback from your boss and colleagues, and use it to improve your assertiveness skills.
It’s going to take reps to learn how to be more assertive in real-time. So be kind to yourself. Mistakes will set up you for success. A reflective mindset will serve you well. Keep engaging. Do what you can to not only identify problems but help solve problems, it’ll make you indispensable.
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