Coaching and Mentoring: Key Tools for Growth!

It was easy to see that some early coaching and mentoring would’ve benefited the mid-career woman who shared her story with the audience.

Jen, (not her real name) was visibly moved when she got up towards the end of our recent RSM Signature event to share: “I chose the “Discover Your Passion” session because I was confused. I had six different passions and I didn’t know how to choose one. But the group helped me see that all my passions where actually under one umbrella and now I can look for an opportunity where I can pursue that passion.”

MetLife 2015 RSM Signature event participants clapping during Q&A session

There’s amazing mutual mentoring going on at all our RSM events!

It was exactly the kind of insights participants of our programs discover yet, very revealing of a reality many women face (particularly those with diverse backgrounds) the lack of role models growing up and subsequent lack of career coaching and mentoring. Had Jen cultivated mentoring relationships early on in her career, she would’ve probably been much further along. Why? Because a good mentor would have helped her figure out what she was passionate about and would’ve helped her align her passion, interests, knowledge and skills with her career goals. And that alignment in itself proves to be extremely effective for career growth. Because we tend to prosper when we do what we love.

Coaching and mentoring

Although the terms coach and mentor are often used interchangeably, for clarity purposes, let’s make a distinction between receiving coaching and mentoring.

At the RSM Signature Event at MetLife participants celebrate a successful day of coaching and mentoring and great connections

At the RSM Signature Event at MetLife participants celebrate a successful day of coaching and mentoring and great connections

Coaching definition

According to Wikipedia, “Coaching is training or development in which a person called a coach supports a learner in achieving a specific personal or professional goal. The learner is sometimes called a coachee. (…) Coaching differs from mentoring in focusing on specific tasks or objectives, as opposed to general goals or overall development.”

It helps to think of a coach as someone paid by you or by your company to help you develop a particular skill or achieve a specific goal. For example, you might hire a coach to help you strengthen your communication or management style, or to help you become a good public speaker. There are all kinds of coaches and although you may think they are a luxury reserved for those who can pay an average $250 an hour, you can be part of our Step Up program for a very affordable price.

Mentoring definition

Mutual Mentoring inspirational quote by Mariela Dabbah, founder and CEO of the Red Shoe Movement

The mutual mentoring experience is more powerful the more diverse the parties involved.

Again, according to Wikipedia “Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé.)”

The concept of a “mentor” originally meant someone older who guided a child. The word “Mentor” itself comes from the name of a friend of Odysseus entrusted with the education of his son. But nowadays peer mentoring and mutual mentoring (which is at the core of the RSM methodology) are very common and equally if not more valuable than the traditional style of mentoring. A mentor is not only someone who can help you set your career goals bu,t most importantly, the person who helps you connect the dots, understand the unwritten rules and policies of an organization, figure out who the power brokers are, how to present your ideas so they are easily accepted, and so on.

Peer mentoring

Even when they are informal, peer mentoring relationships are powerful tools at your disposal. Colleagues who know more about how things are done, or about a particular process, for example, are a rich source of knowledge and guidance when you start working in a new department or project. The advantage of peer mentoring is that when done well, both parties grow together and have each other’s backs. You can practice peer mentoring with colleagues in your own organization or outside. Both options offer a multitude of advantages for your development.

Mutual mentoring definition

As I mentioned above, at the core of the RSM methodology is mutual mentoring. As a matter of fact, we call it RSM Mutual Mentoring Circles. It’s where Jen discovered that she only had one overarching passion. But you don’t need to be at one of our events to experience the effect of this type of mentoring. Mutual mentoring is about finding a person from whom you’d like to learn and who could learn something from you regardless of age, experience or seniority level. In fact, the more diverse the partners, the richer the experience as each person enters a new world and opens the door to her own world to the other party. Both individuals benefit and grow in the process. They are both invested in the relationship and interested in seeing the other person succeed. They both push each other’s agendas forward. A complete win-win situation.

MetLife Mutual Mentoring Circle about Executive Presence, facilitated by Lily Benjamin at RSM Signature Event 2015

Our RSM Mutual Mentoring Circles are a fantastic way to gain insights into your career to accelerate growth.

Mutual mentoring is also known as reciprocal mentoring. Here’s Lily Benjamin’s, A Global Talent, Organization Development and Change Management Executive,  take on it: “Reciprocal mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship, based on a more egalitarian connection, regardless of the title of the Mentor or his/her level in the organization.  It is founded on the premise that we all have value to add; and mentors and mentees learn from each other.  The structure of it in itself promotes interconnection, synergy, and teamwork.  However, for this reciprocal relationship to be beneficial to both sides certain conditions needs to exist. Expectations need to be clearly defined, rules of engagement have to be agreed on, both parties need to be willing to learn from one another, trust needs to be established, and both parties need to be open to seeing situations from different angles.”

It’s never too early or too late to seek coaching and mentoring. It’s always the right time when you realize you must find a mentor or a coach to continue to challenge yourself and grow. That’s when you will take the full advantage of having someone who can help you get what you want. Never let your age or career stage stop you. Go for it!



Do Your Actions Support Your Personal Brand?

Your personal brand comes across in your everyday actions and words. When there’s dissonance, credibility comes into question.

I loved Courtney, my yoga instructor. She was extremely flexible, gave very clear directions and held the most perfect poses. Until one day she started to ask the viewers of her videos to comment about her outfit.

Personal Brand quote by Mariela Dabbah - Your personal brand is the experience others have of you. Are your actions and words consistent with what you'd like to project?

Every day you can impact in a positive or negative way your personal brand.

“Do you like Courtney in a monochromatic outfit or do you like her more when she’s wearing a crazy two color combination one?” Come again? I’m practicing yoga, not watching Project Runway! Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. On the next video, she asked viewers: “You may have noticed I have my hair straight today. Do you prefer it like this or curly? Leave me a comment.” I was so frustrated with this display of narcissism and insecurity that I started keeping the volume off during the first few minutes of each video. Her lack of alignment between her personal brand as a respected yoga instructor and her questions on appearance was making me lose respect for her.

After a while, I decided to find a different guru. Someone who took the practice more seriously. I looked at a bunch of different videos and settled for Jen, another talented teacher with a warm demeanor and easy to follow even when you were in Downward Dog, not looking at the screen. She and I moved through Warrior One to Triangle Poses together like we had been doing this for a long time. And then, on the third video she asked: “You may have noticed I have a couple of tattoos. I’m thinking of getting another one. So I’d like to know, do you like tattoos? Should I hide them? Leave me a comment.” Really? Don’t you have friends who could answer that question? And while you’re at it, couldn’t you ask for some feedback in terms of how these inquiries affect your personal brand?

You may enjoy this piece about my great aunt Marietta's personal brand.

Now, what does this have to do with you, you wonder. A lot. Because Courtney and Jen are two professional yoga instructors who I assume do yoga videos for a variety of reasons:

  • To get their personal brand out there
  • To attract students to their private and group classes
  • To attract potential endorsements
  • To drive traffic to their websites where they sell merchandise and classes
  • To build a personal brand as experts and be invited to wellness retreats

And so on.

Personal brand quote by Mariela Dabbah - "Your daily words & behavior reinforce or damage your personal brand"

Beware of any dissonance between what you’d like to be known for and how you behave.

And when rather than keeping the viewer’s attention on the results he/she is getting from the practice the instructors turn the attention to themselves, they blow their personal brand. Suddenly, the viewer feels dragged into a conversation about which she couldn’t care less. Let’s face it. If I had wanted to exercise my right to an opinion, I would’ve tuned into The Voice or Dancing with the Stars. I tuned into this channel to practice yoga. I have allocated half an hour to my practice every day and I don’t care about your hair or the color of your pants. If you want to engage me, then ask me about something that is important to me. Like, “Has your flexibility improved from when we first started today? Have you been able to breathe throughout the various poses?”

By moving the focus of attention from my results to their need to be validated, the instructors also do a disservice to themselves because inevitably I think less of them as professionals. As a result of shining a light on superficial aspects of themselves that have no connection with what they do, I question their credibility as top yoga instructors. Because suddenly, I think that if their hair, outfits and tattoos are so important to them perhaps they don’t take yoga as seriously as they want me to believe.

My question to you is this, Do people who have interactions with you experience a similar kind of disconnect between what you are trying to project (your personal brand) and your behavior and words? Do you fall into the trap of focusing on your appearance and other superficial aspects rather on delivering your best product or performance?

Here's a sharp post about the impact of your brand as you prepare for a job interview

It’s easy to perceive the disconnect between a yoga master and her inquiring about whether she should get more tattoos or not. But in our daily professional lives we see examples of this dissonance all the time. And they can be the undoing of any personal brand.

Stop for a minute to take stock of the perception others have of you. Because that’s all a personal brand is. The perceptions others have of you. Their experience with you. Does it align well with the person you want to be known for? With how you want to be remembered? If not, you have some work to do.

Interested in more branding and career insights? Register here to get our updates. 

Self Promotion is a Leadership Competency – Striking the right tone

Effective self-promotion, is essential for success, yet one of the main hurdles for women in business to overcome.

Most women have grown up with the idea that hard work will get them noticed. When in fact it is the strategic, effective, and explicit promotion of their achievements and their potential what gets women’s hard work noticed. The key, of course, is that all of it must be presented in an appropriate manner and context.

Unfortunately, this misconception around self-promotion is pervasive throughout all levels of an organization. A study on senior executive women conducted by Women of Influence suggests that the same challenges faced by many women in middle management still surface among women in senior management roles. The well-known secret for the sustainability of a successful career (regardless of gender or level in the organization,) however, is in fact ongoing self-promotion paired with political shrewdness.

Self promotion inspirational quote by Lily Benjamin - Communicating your accomplishments and value proposition doesn't only benefit you; it also benefits your team, peers and the organization

Understanding the real definition of self-promotion enables you to take full advantage of its power for career growth.

Redefining self-promotion

So it’s time to redefine self-promotion in order to really understand what it entails and learn how to do it gracefully, strategically, and effectively.

First, self-promotion is a leadership competency

The competency of self-promotion encompasses acting with intent, being assertive, and negotiating along the way. These are all fundamental leadership skills to influence vital stakeholders and gain access to networks in order to advance shared business goals.

Second, it’s not just about you

Communicating your accomplishments and value proposition doesn’t only benefit you; it also benefits your team, peers, and the organization. Any leader without this competency cannot actively engage others when promoting and selling her/his vision. The impact of a team is a clear indication of its leader’s abilities. Hence, when a leader promotes the accomplishment of their team, they are not only motivating their people but they are also indirectly promoting their own leadership capabilities.

Get over fear of speaking in public so you can effectively use self-promotion anywhere.

The challenge of self-promotion for women

Charlotte du Val d'Ognes by Marie Denise Villers from the MetMuseum Collection

Women were not raised to self-promote. We need to change that! Painting: Charlotte du Val d’Ognes by Marie Denise Villers from the MetMuseum Collection-

The concept of self-promotion is particularly taxing for women because they are not only challenged with the genetic predisposition to ‘tend or befriend’ that results in them putting others before themselves, but also with social norms of humility and modesty. This is very different from what men experience. Their genetic predisposition drives them to ‘fight or flight’, which generally means they put themselves before others, while social norms encourage their bragging rights. These are some of the main reasons why men are not only inclined to self-promote but when they do, they are perceived as competent and impressive. Whereas when women do the same they are perceived negatively as showoffs.

Being gender intelligent is essential to break through this inevitable genetic and social conundrum, as self-promotion is critical for a successful career path and for greater impact on business results.

Though we can’t change genetic predispositions, through awareness and behavior modification we can address social norms to successfully display a sense of self-worth, confidence, and competence.

Learning about being more assertive can help you master self-promotion.


Generally speaking, women admit that often the greatest barriers to effectively self-promote are themselves. But it’s also true that a lot of the social norms and myths reinforce these obstacles. So, let’s debunk several of those myths about self-promotion.

Myths about self-promotion
Myth Rationalization Fact
The Bitch “Self promotion will make me look arrogant.” Self-promotion done well is essential to a successful career. It gives the opportunity for others to learn and benefit from your contributions.
The Princess “If I’m good enough, people will hear about it.” (The princess waits for her knight…) Women need to take action to promote their contributions, rather than wait for the recognition to come to them. People are too busy to notice the contributions of others. No one can advocate better for your attributes than you can.
The Friends and Family ”Others (people who know me) should talk about my accomplishments, not me.” Relying on word of mouth alone, without influencing the key messages can be counter productive.   Effectively owning and promoting your personal brand and value to others, pays off big dividends.
The Martyr “You can’t control what people think anyway.” Women can influence what others think of them, by believing in themselves and displaying confidence through the quality of your work. The impact they have on other people, their teams, and organizations will strengthen your personal brand.
Self Promotion quote by Lily Benjamin

Achieving the competency of self-promotion is key to your career success

Your take away on self-promotion…

Self-promotion is an essential leadership skill. Learn how to believe on your strengths and attributes, while observing the impact you have on others and on business results. Then, share the value you and others add. Strengthen this leadership skill to further strengthen your confidence and reputation, while enjoying your continued success!

Look out for my upcoming post on successful self-promotion strategies!

5 Tips for Dealing with Emotional Outbursts at Work

Supporting someone’s ambitions when they have emotional outbursts at work is a challenge. But that’s exactly the time when you get to show your leadership.

Dealing with emotional outbursts at work is never easy. I give you that. But it’s a chance to show your leadership chops. Will you put the good of the team above your own ego or will you give into your own need to establish your authority?

Parody of The Scream by artist Meowza

Parody of The Scream by artist Meowza

Emotional outbursts have a way of arising in the least practical moments. Naturally, when people are most stressed over important deadlines or key decisions or situations, there’s a tendency for emotions to flare up. Or for any little thing to become the straw that breaks the camel’s back, which results in an unpleasant emotional outburst.

I recently finished a mayor project, a milestone in my career. A day 20 years in the making, let alone the several weeks leading to the celebration for which I had invested lots of preparation and energy. The day was here and everything was going smoothly. Then suddenly, one of my team members confronted me with the fact that I was not treating her the way she expected to be treated. She was having an emotional breakdown over this. It stopped me in my tracks. Really? At the very moment when I was celebrating a major achievement I had to deal with an emotional outburst? Well, that’s exactly how it usually goes, isn’t it? When you least need it… But then again, what is the right time for emotional outbursts in the workplace?

Here’s a post on Recognizing a Hostile Work Environment you might like.
Resolving conflict inspirational quote - Listening, honestly listening, is a critical piece of resolving conflict

How good a listener are you?

I realized immediately that to deal with my own stress that day I had adopted a “shorthand” style of communication that came across as imperative. I trusted that my colleague would be able to decode the fact that this was a temporary style change due to the demanding circumstances I was facing. (My bad, because we didn’t know each other that well yet.) I apologized right away. But she wouldn’t stop.

I could see that something else was at play with her. Regardless of what her perception was of how I treated her, I’m also aware that nothing I did deserved such an overreaction. I may have been short. Never abusive. And nothing that would justify such an emotional outburst. Nothing that couldn’t have waited a couple of hours to get resolved.

5 tips for dealing with emotional outbursts in your organization

This topic is particularly relevant when managing Latinos and other ethnicities who are known to have a more passionate communication style. At times that passion may come across as an emotional outburst when it’s only an expression of what they care about. And the truth is that you don’t want to eliminate passion from the workplace because it is what moves people and in the end, what makes it an interesting place to work. But there’s a difference between expressing your emotions and having an emotional outburst. So your role is to help people learn to modulate their emotional temperature to be more effective communicators.

These are 5 of the actions that have served me well whenever confronted by emotional outbursts in a professional setting.


Yup, that’s my first suggestion. Breathe and center yourself. Be present. Let go of whatever else is going on and focus on the here and now. On this person in front of you (or on the phone) who, if not dealt with in an adequate fashion, might turn a bad situation into a much worse one. After you focus for a moment you might decide this is not your biggest problem right now, and that’s fine. But you need to take a couple of breaths to decide that.

2Give people the benefit of the doubt

Head of a Woman by Pablo Picasso at the Met

Allowing the expression of emotions in the workplace is important. It’s emotional outbursts that we must learn to control.

All of us, particularly women, are subject to so many pressures from so many fronts all the time that there are likely many aspects of their lives you ignore. We expect people to leave their personal problems at the door but if people did that, you’d be working with robots. So you have to take individuals as a whole. And again, emotions are good indicators of what people care about. We are only talking about their most extreme expression. That’s why my next suggestion is that when someone behaves inappropriately you give them the benefit of the doubt at least once.

Faced with emotional outbursts or overreactions, stop for a second and entertain the possibility that there might be something else at play that has nothing to do with you. Not that this gives people a pass to have an emotional flare up at work but it may help you better understand their circumstances and be more lenient. You still will need to have a conversation about modulating emotional temperature and not taking things so personally. But it will help you put away your own feelings and temptation to overreact yourself.

3Don’t add fuel to the fire.

Emotions quote by Maya Angelou - People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel

When an emotional outburst makes someone feel horrible, they will remember and it will affect your professional future.

Listening, honestly listening, is always a critical piece of resolving conflicts. And for that to happen, the person who is having the emotional outburst needs to feel she’s not being ignored. At this point, avoid debating, contradicting or asking for explanations. Admit that you hear what they are saying and that this is not the right time to discuss the topic any further. Make sure the person understands this is not a delay tactic but a commitment to address the issue at a more appropriate time. Then, follow through.

4Don’t draw lines in the sand.

When someone is pushing your buttons at the wrong time it obviously requires a good amount of self-control to avoid the need to give ultimatums and draw lines in the sand. Once again, a trait shared by strong leaders and which reveals solid executive presence in those aspiring to be leaders. So exercise self-control for a better outcome.

5Have the conversation

Set up the meeting to have the conversation you promised them and calmly ask the person to reflect on what happened that day. Let them come to the realization that regardless of who was right or wrong, there is no room for emotional outbursts at work. This is a chance for them to identify their own triggers and find ways to better manage stress and deal with conflicts to avoid future emotional outbursts.

Overcoming emotional outbursts quote - This too shall pass... so take a deep breath

Leaders have a chance to show their skills when they deal well with emotional outbursts

During this conversation, you might want to share some of the consequences of emotional outbursts in a professional setting:

  • Erosion of professional reputation
  • Perception that she lacks self control, therefore executive presence and potential loss of future opportunities
  • Damage to one’s personal brand
  • Damage to team morale
  • Don’t miss this HBR wonderful piece on emotional outbursts!

Since the day of the emotional outburst my colleague has produced great work for me. It was a learning occasion for both of us but it has undoubtedly planted red flags in my mind in regards to assigning her future high stakes projects. And this is the message you must strive to convey to women in your team. When you give into the heat of the moment and have an emotional outburst at work, you impacting your career long term. So think twice before you jump off the deep end.

Being More Assertive: Finding the Sweet Spot

To be successful you must be assertive and confident. Women, however, tend to shy away from being more assertive for fear of being labeled as aggressive.

Assertive women support other women and men

Assertive women follow the 7 Red Shoe Movement Principles

This is similar to the behavior women exhibit when negotiating for themselves. A topic I discussed in the post: 3 Key Negotiating Strategies for Women.

As a result of avoiding being more assertive, women pay a harsh price— they receive negative evaluations, negative attributions and they miss major career opportunities. Watch this video clip “A Man’s a Boss, a Women’s Bossy” for a series of examples of how similar behaviors are perceived as negative in women and celebrated in men.

To avoid being penalized for behaving in ways that are contrary to feminine stereotypes, women hedge their assertiveness and use fewer competitive tactics. Inevitably, these adjustments have a backlash effect that hinders women’s effectiveness in their careers.

What is Assertiveness?

Assertiveness is a communication style in which people put forward their own needs, ideas, and feelings, while respecting the right of others to do the same. Different levels of assertiveness can be applied depending on the situation.

The challenge is that being more assertive goes against the training most women have received from birth – to defer to men and to stay in the background. This passive stand renders women ineffective and denies them of the opportunity to reach their unlimited potential. And even though as women grow these passive behaviors may change, in a professional setting women still tend to defer to men.

Assertive women quote by Lily Benjamin - Assertive women have found the sweet spot in the communication spectrum

Being more assertive offers enormous career advantages for women.

This accommodating behavior is very subtle and mainly communicated via non-verbal messages, which constitutes 93% of any communication (55% body language and 38% tone.) Several specific examples of body-language messages where women miss the chance to be more assertive are: Smiling too much, nodding in agreement even when they are not, little cooing, supportive noises (“mm hmmm, mm hmmm,”) and presenting a tilted head to signal listening, a pose that is recognizable in puppies.

A common example of how tone sends a message that lacks assertiveness is the odd upward lilt that transforms every statement into an insecure-sounding question.

And to briefly touch on the verbal aspect of communication (which only represents 7% of any communication,) a typical example is the use of ego-soothing expressions such as: “Just following up, or piggy backing, on what YOU said….” and so on.

All of these subtle cues, particularly those involved in non-verbal communication, sway women’s communication style to the passive side of the spectrum. As a result of being passive, women get themselves in a position of violating their own rights.

What is the Difference Between Being More Assertive and Being Aggressive?

Assertive quote by Sharon Anthony Bower

It’s critical to avoid confusing being more assertive with being aggressive.

On the other side of the spectrum lays aggressiveness, which is what happens when people (and in the case of this post, women) veer 180 degrees away from a passive style and they come across as forthright and blunt. Aggressive women try to get the upper hand in the conversation and attempt to punish others usually using a lot of “you…” messages and blame. They are often trying to cover their own feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and powerlessness. These women aim to win even if this means disregarding others’ rights, needs, or feelings. As a result of being aggressive, women get themselves in a position of violating the rights of others.

Take the RSM Communication Style Quiz and see where you are in the spectrum.

Key Distinction Between an Aggressive vs. Assertive Woman

There is a misconception that for women to effectively climb the corporate ladder they have to be like men. They need to dress, speak, gesture, use cursing words, have a masculine style of commanding others, etc. Those who give into that stereotype can be easily spotted when they overdo it and end up “eating their own” – being catty and stepping over other women. These individuals can be their worst enemies, sabotaging and undermining their own authority and effectiveness due to their inability of being assertive.

A good way to distinguish aggressive vs assertive women is that assertive women do not “eat their own;” they are actually very supportive of other women, as well as very supportive of men.

Check out the 7 Principles of the Red Shoe Movement

Assertive women don’t blame others, they own their viewpoints by using “I” statements (“I like,” “I want,” “I don’t want,”) they use cooperative phrases (“What are your thoughts on this?”) they make distinctions between facts and opinions (“My experience is different,” “In my opinion…”) rather than using “should” they make suggestions (“How about”, “Would you like to…”), and they seek others’ ideas (“How does this fit with your ideas?”) Assertive women have found the sweet spot in the communication spectrum.

The Sweet Spot: Being More Assertive and Improving Your Effectiveness

Assertive women are keenly aware of the gender-based effect whereas women are often misunderstood and penalized for behaviors accepted in men. They understand the importance of reading their audience, environment, and circumstances. They are like chameleons able to assess the social situation and adapt accordingly, oscillating within the communication spectrum to be more or less assertive. Notice that I didn’t say, “becoming more or less passive, or even more or less aggressive.” Those are never good options. Effectiveness resides on balancing the degree of assertiveness based on the circumstances.

Assertive definition Merriam Webster dictionary - Confident in behavior and style

Find the sweet spot in the communication spectrum to find your assertive style

Strategies to Find the Sweet Spot

Being assertive is not necessarily easy, but it is a skill that can be learned.

Don’t miss this Harvard Business Review article, How to Be Assertive (without loosing yourself).

Developing your assertiveness style starts with a good understanding of who you are and a belief in the value you bring.

1First, “know thyself”

Awareness is 50% of the change. Clarity of your strengths and opportunities always raise your confidence level, giving you a specific direction on what to work on. Here is an assertiveness assessment you can try.

2Learn assertive communication skills

Communicating assertively will give you confidence, strengthen your relationships, and help you be more effective. When done well, you gain the support and respect of others. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ or ‘yes’, just do both taking others into account.

  • Reflect confidence: stand up straight, look people in the eye, and relax
  • Use a firm, but pleasant, tone
  • Check and validate your assumptions; avoid jumping to conclusions
  • Seek to understand other people’s point of views
  • Think in win-win terms and seek win-win situations

3Debunk myths about assertiveness

The Centre for Clinical Intervention trains on three myths that can be used as a tool to help you know the differences between assertiveness and aggressiveness.

Myths about Assertiveness
Myth Reasoning Fact
“Assertiveness is basically the same as being aggressive.” Some people who are aggressive think they are being assertive because they are stating what their needs are. Yes, both assertive and aggressive communication involves stating your needs. There are very important differences, however, in the words, the tone and in the body language used.
“If I am assertive I will get what I want.” Being assertive does not mean that you always get what you want. There is no guaranteed outcome. Being assertive is about expressing yourself in a way that shows respect for your needs and the needs of others. Sometimes this means you get what you want, sometimes you won’t get what you want, and sometimes you will come to a mutually satisfactory compromise.
“If I am assertive I have to be equally assertive in every situation” Understanding how to be assertive, gives you the choice to critically judge the circumstances and appropriately balance your degree of assertiveness. Sometimes, you may realize that you need to adjust the degree of assertiveness in order to be effective. Learning to be assertive is about providing yourself with a choice!


Everyone has the ability to learn how to be assertive, or effective when being more assertive than they currently are. The key is to self-monitor and adjust according to the situation, remaining fair and empathetic. Your power comes from your self-assurance and not from intimidation or bullying. When you treat others with such fairness and respect, you get that same treatment in return, you are appreciated, and sought out as a thought leader.