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How to push back (without being fired!)

Posted 7 months ago by Rebecca Hall

Professionalism is paramount in the workplace and in order to maintain a positive relationship with colleagues and superiors, it’s important that you know how to assert yourself with integrity and eloquence.

If the idea of confrontation at work causes you to break out in a cold sweat, we can assure you, you’re not alone. It could be that you’re tasked with an impossible workload or have a difficult colleague to tackle or a myriad of other reasons. Often the temptation to stay quiet, hoping the tide will turn on its own, seems like an infinitely more appealing prospect than facing the problem head on, however, things will always be resolved better if you learn to push back.

But don’t fret, it’s not about becoming antagonistic within the office, it’s simply that you are entitled to express yourself and you should feel able to offer an alternative point of view.

This can be achieved simply and effectively by managing conflict and mastering assertiveness.

Eliminate risk by following these simple steps:

1. It’s not about volume. Don’t just raise your voice to be heard – this is often viewed as a power play and will annoy your colleagues, rather than influence them. Over time, this behaviour will mean that you’re seen as a disruptive force, which is never good for career progression.

2. Take a moment to step back, view the situation from both perspectives and think about exactly what you’d like to say. Taking a moment to ensure you can frame your viewpoint constructively in a way that clearly communicates your feelings will always stand you in good stead.

3. Craft your message. It will be easier to deliver if you have a focus, a single proposition. Be ready to develop this with no more than three supporting arguments, not a long list of reasons, which could easily dilute your point. Remember quality over quantity.

4. Take time to consider how you would like to come across. This may differ depending on who you’re talking to but as a general rule, a positive and confident demeanour is important. If you’re nervous about the conversation, take a few deep breaths and try not to to rush through the point you’re making.

5. Confidence is key. Remember you are employed in your role for a reason; you have specific skills that benefit your employer and you are a valuable part of the business. Despite what you may want to address, be confident that your opinions are worthy, so believe in yourself! In the vast majority of cases, your employer/colleague will be glad you’ve expressed your concerns, as it’s impossible for them to act on anything if they don’t know there’s a problem.

The bottom line is that a business’s most valuable asset bar none is its staff. Any good employer will value the opinions of their employees, especially if these are delivered in a constructive, well thought through way. Believe it or not, good bosses want to understand if concerns exist, but until their made aware of them they’re powerless to act and your concerns will only deepen when in all likelihood they could easily be solved. Your opinion is important and should be valued. If it’s not, it might be time to find an employer where it will be.