President's Message

Let's talk about being assertive at work. Over the last few weeks, I've seen dozens of individuals share their experiences online of employers taking advantage of their time, ability, and talents. These stories reminded my own experiences, where I, too, have been taken advantage of at work. My experiences often involved a lack of boundaries, unrealistic expectations, and an environment where my opinion didn't matter. As I think about these experiences, I noticed one thing in common. I felt powerless.

Many years ago, I had a supervisor who loved-micromanaging his employees. He got so involved in the minute details of every employee's life and their job that it was impossible to make a move without my supervisor having the final word. I remember a time where I had been working several 10-12 hour days in a row and told my supervisor I would be coming in late the next morning. (I worked until after 10:30 the night before).

Rather than getting to work at my usual arrival time (7:30 am), I decided to arrive an hour later. On my way to work, I got several calls from my supervisor on my cell phone, which I did not answer because I was in traffic. When I pulled into the work parking lot, I got a call from my wife letting me know that my supervisor had called her as well. He claimed to have called because he was worried about me, but the truth was he was checking up on me because I hadn't arrived "on time" for work. Although I was very frustrated with him at the time, I didn't have the courage or know-how to stand up for myself.

This experience and many others have helped me to learn, grow, and be more confident in who I am and the value I can bring to the table. One thing which has dramatically improved my confidence is being more assertive at work.

Being assertive at work means standing up for yourself clearly and directly. It involves the ability to express your opinions or viewpoint clearly. Being proactive at work means setting boundaries and being willing to say "no" to what you won't do, and getting others to say "yes" to what you expect them to do. It is the process of standing up for yourself. It is a form of understanding where you respect other's opinions, and you expect them to respect yours.

I think it is also essential to discuss the difference between being aggressive and assertive at work. Bold and decisive are not the same and produce very different outcomes. While assertiveness at work requires respect and understanding, aggressiveness, on the other hand, is often based on some form of domination. Many times the purpose of someone aggressive is to take advantage of someone else. Aggressors often don't respect others, feel the overwhelming need to be heard and be right, and feel the end justifies the means. (They often don't see the long-term consequences of their actions).

Here are four ways you can become more assertive at work:

Ask for what you want: I know this may sound obvious, but you would be surprised how many people don't ask for exactly what they want. And, when employees do ask for what they want, they aren't clear and direct. While your expectations may be clear to you, others may not know or understand your needs. Employers can't read your mind.

Recognize you have a choice: If you feel like you are being taken advantage of at work, it is easy to feel -trapped and powerless. The truth is you always have choices. You can continue to put up with it, attempt to change it, or leave and find a better fit for you.

Focus your approach: Being assertive at work requires knowing the right time and right method based on your situation. It means understanding the role emotions play in your approach. It requires finding a balance between being assertive and aggressive, depending on the situation. It also means picking and choosing your battles. Rather than attempting to be decisive in every case, it means focusing your time and energy on the issues which matter most.

Concentrate on you: Assertiveness is not a process to follow, but a change in your behavior and attitude, which reflects who you are and what you expect. Assertiveness is empowering because it allows you to take control and ownership of your situation and not be influenced or demeaned by others. It involves intentionally focusing on your words, actions, thoughts, and behaviors, allowing you to portray your worth to others.

When you are assertive at work, you realize that no one has the right or ability to take away your worth or power. When you are proactive, you understand your needs and worth. Your value goes beyond your title or job description. You recognize your value is a combination of all of your experience, outlook, and perspective. You respect yourself and others.

One of the benefits of being a member of A.F.P. is being a part of an organization designed to help YOU reach YOUR full potential.

Yours in fundraising,

Aaron G. Javener C.F.R.E

2020 President

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