Thursday, April 12, 2012

Role of Assertiveness in HR Communication - How to Be Assertive?

Role of Assertiveness in HR Communication - How to Be Assertive?

Assertiveness is the ability to express oneself while respecting and taking others’ feelings and rights into account. People who communicate assertively are not mean or obnoxious. They do not step on the feelings of others to get what they want, as is the case with aggressive communication. 

Is saying “no” to someone wrong? I have asked this question to myself innumerable times in the past 7 years in my tenure as a HR professional; because that’s how a few of my colleagues had made me feel. In the past decade, there was a myth that a HR professional being a people’s person, should be nice to them and always behave in a pleasing way etc. But that does not definitely mean you can’t say no to someone.

I previously worked in an environment where all my colleagues from the HR team used to listen to all employees’ queries and say ‘yes’ to everything, even to their unreasonable requests. There were a lot of situations were none of their requests could be honored but still my colleagues would happily tell them ”Yes we will do that.” But once the employee was out of our cabin, they would say “Oh, just forget it.” But why can’t they say ‘No’ to that employee? When I asked them this question, they said, “We have to be nice to people as we are in HR, so say yes for now, we can say something later when they come in again.” I was shocked at such a response from my senior colleague who had worked in HR for an MNC before.

It was since then that I have always wanted to share my views on the topic of Assertiveness. People consider assertiveness as a Taboo at office, especially in HR. But I had the habit of approaching the employees with an assertive way of communication and explaining to them politely why their request cannot be considered. By being honest with them, we could at least be assured that the employee/s would not have false hopes and get disappointed later.


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