Oftentimes, it may seem as if you’re not speaking the same language in the workforce. When English is not your first language, it can be even more difficult to assert yourself. Right off the bat, colleagues are less likely be inclusive. I’ve even experienced times when they would deliberately exclude me or not take my ideas into account because I couldn’t get my point across clearly, and so no one was convinced that my way was the best way to solve a problem. It can be quite hard to bounce back from that, so I’ve compiled some tips to help you gain their trust and confidence as soon as the relationship starts. Please note the same also applies when speaking English.
Tip #1 Confidence is the root of success, so be assertive. Don’t kneecap your sentences.
- Instead of “I am not sure whether it is a good choice,” say this: “I am convinced that it is the best choice.”
- Instead of “You probably have better problem-solving skills, but here is what I am thinking,”
say this: “I have extremely strong problem-solving skills and my advice can be an asset to you.”
- Instead of “I don’t know but doing it my way seems like it’s working,” say this: “I have earned the trust of my peers in the past, and I strongly encourage you to do it my way.”
In all three cases, the message conveyed in both pairs of sentences is the same, but the delivery is very different. Each time, the first sentence sounds very unconfident and it shows through negatives, comparatives, and vagueness. Instead, word your sentences so that your conversation partner knows that you are providing them with expert advice. That means using bold vocabulary, superlatives, and positive connotations to get your point across. This way, men in particular are more likely to take your advice without questioning it.
Tip #2 Change your verbs. Verbs play a big part in how people receive your message, so use more definite and empathetic verbs so that you make clear exactly what it is that you want. For example:
- “I will be going on vacation next week, so I will need someone to cover my workload.”
- “I want to be added to this project because I believe that I have the skills and experience to help it do well.”
- “I choose this option because I think it will be the most successful.”
Tip #3 Learn to say a firm but polite no. It can be tricky sometimes, but it is essential to know your limits. Unfortunately, you can’t please everybody, but you can think of a win-win situation instead. Here are some examples:
- Unfortunately, now is not a good time, how about we talk again on Monday?
- I’m not taking any more assignments right now; but I’d be happy to help if you have any questions.
- Thank you, but I have a big deadline I want to honor coming up soon. How about we reschedule this to next month?
And lastly, let me know: is there anything that you struggle with in English to assert yourself? These tips cover all bases but don’t always work for specific cases. So go ahead, ask questions, I’ll be more than happy to address them!