How many times you walk out of a meeting feeling dejected that you could not express your point of view well? You had a good point but there were others, more aggressive and more vocal, whose opinion prevailed. You may have noticed that people who know less talk more in meetings. People with sound knowledge make their points but are not always heard the way they should be. I am asked to pen down my reflections on how to be assertive in work and life situations without being aggressive. I wonder if I am the right person to write on this because I often find myself in the same situation. Any way, here are a few reflections:
Be amongst the first ones to speak: Meetings at work usually have a specific duration. Generally the first few speakers guide the course of the discussion. Most of the times, we have the opportunity to speak early but we don’t take it. So, take the initiative and make your point as early as possible. By speaking early, you can put the discussion on the right track. This would be much better than letting it go a wrong way and then struggle to bring it back to the point.
Speak facts: Preparation always helps. It is always helpful to think over the issue to be discussed, do the ground work, gather facts and prepare your perspective. Not everyone comes prepared in meetings. The one, who has prepared well, has an edge over others.
Speak in the larger interest: When your points are made in the broader interest of work and you are ethically right, it is not easy for others to ignore them. Even if they do it once, they will not be able to do it a second time. Truth can not be ignored or suppressed for too long.
Pick up only the critical issues, not all: I try this and find it to be working most of the times. I don’t pick up every issue to respond even if I don’t agree with it. I pick up only the critical ones and try my best to share my point of view on this as firmly as possible. Give up on trivial matters by telling you that it does not matter much. But do raise your voice on issues that matter.
I must also add that most of the times, people don’t speak their mind because of the presence of seniors. Don’t get bogged down by personalities. Even if your point is not appreciated, you will have the satisfaction of having the courage to make your point. Remember, the weight of character is often heavier than the weight of positions.