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Korrespondenz auf Englisch - Stärken Sie Ihr Durchsetzungsvermögen

Schlagwörter: Geschäftsreise, Englisch, Geschäftsenglisch, Business English

Imagine yourself in these situations:

  • Your boss has rung and asked to see you immediately, and from the tone of her voice you know something has gone very wrong.
  • Colleagues have complained about a member of your staff with a personal hygiene problem and it’s your job to deal with the situation.
  • At home, your partner brings up an issue that you know will cause considerable disagreement.

Many of us will react with symptoms of anxiety — racing pulse, a lump in the stomach, sweaty palms, and a dry mouth. We’ll be worried about the outcome — how we will manage the situation and how it will affect the relationship with the other person. And we might well react in one of several different ways. Some of us will be passive — accepting whatever the boss or her colleague has to say and putting off the discussion with the unhygienic staff member in the hope that the problem ( and the smell! ) will disappear. Others might react aggressively — arguing passionately with boss and partner and threatening the staff-member with suspension. A few might be manipulative — getting their second-in-command to talk to the staffmember, blaming someone else during the interview with the boss, and reminding the partner at home of past wrongs. None of these options is the best way to deal with such difficult situations. We need another approach. We need to assert ourselves, to act with assertiveness.

What is assertiveness?
There is no full or exact translation of the word in the German language. We can only define the concept by describing what it involves. There are basic rights that we all have as individuals and human beings. We have the right to be ourselves, the right to ask for what we need and want, and the right to choose and make mistakes. And being assertive means exercising those rights. Here are a few other definitions:
  • Positive self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Clear, open communication
  • Speaking so that people take notice
  • Showing responsibility for your actions
  • Looking for positive outcomes to personal interactions
  • Respect for yourself and for others

As you can see, an assertive person looks for ‘win-win’ solutions to problems and approaches life positively and confidently. The feeling created is ‘I’m OK, you’re OK.’

Improving your assertiveness
Here are six areas you can work on if you feel you need to be more assertive.

1 ) Self-esteem
Do you value yourself and think you are able and worthy of succeeding in life? Our self-esteem is built up throughout our lives and can be enhanced by success or damaged by failure. Some people cover their lack of self-esteem by over-confidence and brashness, whilst others withdraw and accept the decisions of others. Here are a few ways to increase your self-esteem:
Talk to yourself. Some people say that talking to yourself is the first sign of madness! But if, by doing this, you can create a positive inner dialogue, it helps build confidence and self-belief. Psychologists say that most people spend 80% of their inner dialogue on negative thoughts — we need to reverse this. Start by saying aloud a few key positive expressions each day. For example: ‘I can handle it’ or ‘I know what to do’ or ‘I’m up to this.’ The more you teach your inner dialogue to be positive, the more your self-esteem grows.
Avoid the words should and can’t. Should implies you ought to do something but don’t want to. Can’t implies you would if you could! Instead of saying should, make a positive decision such as ‘I could work in the garden this afternoon but I’m choosing to relax by sunbathing and reading a good book.’ Instead of saying can’t, be clear in your decision-making — ‘I’d love to come to the pub for a drink this evening, but I need to study for my exams so I won’t this time.’
Don’t take yourself too seriously. A sense of humour and a little distance to yourself helps you deal with difficult events and difficult people. And don’t forget to give yourself treats and to spoil yourself occasionally.

2 ) Your body language
According to Professor Mehrabian of Harvard University, about 60% of the impact of a message is due to the non-verbal signals we give and receive. Although some signals are culture-bound, it is easy to recognize whether someone is being aggressive or passive by reading the non-verbal signals.
When you meet an aggressive person you can usually recognize this by their facial expression and by their movements and gestures. Their faces have a frown or scowl, the eye contact is intense and hard, their lips are pressed together, and their teeth are gritted. They signal impatience by tapping their feet or fingers or by short nods of the head, or they stand too close, wag their fingers in your face, and jut their head forwards. Passive facial expressions include nervous eye movements and chewing the lower lip, an apologetic expression with the chin dropped towards the chest.
Passive people often hug themselves, cover the mouth with their hands, fiddle with hair or clothes, keep their distance, and have limp, ‘wet fish’ handshakes.
In contrast to both of these, assertive body language is open and friendly, with direct and regular eye contact. Gestures and movements are relaxed and steady. And the greeting is accompanied with a genuine smile.

3 ) Your voice
Professor Mehrabian’s studies also show that your voice accounts for over 30% of a message’s impact. The more confident you sound, the better people will listen and take your ideas into account. Secondlanguage speakers often have the problem of sounding insecure because of needing to search for the right word and because they are unsure of the right intonation. Don’t try to avoid intonation and stress problems by speaking in a monotone. It’s boring for the listener and sounds as if you don’t care about the subject. If you don’t care, why should the listener?
Early on in her period as Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher had the problem of sounding like a nagging schoolmistress. She was taught to lower the pitch of her voice by breathing with the abdomen rather than high up in the chest. Try breathing more deeply when making a presentation: your voice will have better resonance and timbre. Stress the key words in sentences — underline them with your voice. ‘There are three key reasons for our success: the quality of our products, the dedication of our salespeople, and the efficiency of our customer support.’

4 ) The words you use
Be direct. Say what you think. Don’t sulk or slam doors or sigh. If you don’t say what you think and feel, you leave it up to those around you to interpret your feelings — and they may interpret them wrongly. If there is a problem, it can’t be dealt with until it’s out in the open and those concerned understand what it is.
Be short. Don’t say too much. Don’t over explain or over-apologize.
Be confident. When you want to give a clear opinion, use ‘I’ sentences. Usually we are taught to persuade people by using ‘you’ or ‘we’ sentences — ‘You might like to know how we can solve this problem together.’ But if you want to clearly show the strength of your personal opinion, don’t be afraid to take clear responsibility for your own needs, feelings, and ideas: ‘I think we should not invest in this project as the risks are too great.’

5 ) Saying no
It’s very easy to say yes. When you do, you know you’re pleasing the other person — but are you sure you’re pleasing yourself? Very often, when people want to say no, they say yes to avoid confrontation or to please a superior, a loved one, or someone they fear. If you want to say no, be firm, polite ( but don’t over-apologize! ), and show you really mean it — ‘No, I’m afraid you can’t have Thursday off as you really are needed for that customer demonstration in the workshop. I’m sorry, but you can have the Friday instead if you want.’
Say no — ‘No, I’m afraid you can’t...’ Give a brief reason — ‘you really are needed for that customer demonstration.’
Be empathetic — ‘I’m sorry, but you can have the Friday…’
Be persistent.

6 ) Giving and receiving feedback
Feedback is not the same as criticism. It should include 50% positive feedback and 50% constructive criticism. Many managers forget the first 50%, assuming that if they don’t say anything, staff will know everything is fine. But remember, if you don’t say it directly, then your feelings and thoughts are interpretable in many ways. So tell people when they do things you like and want them to continue doing in that way. If people see and understand that you are prepared to praise and support them, they will then be much more open to receiving the 50% constructive criticism.
Giving criticism is never easy — here are a few rules:
  • Be calm, considerate, and do it in private.
  • Be solution-oriented. Don’t say, ‘Why can’t you keep your workspace tidy?’ Say: ‘Could you tidy up your workspace please?’ In other words, offer a solution rather than simply showing the fault.
  • Be specific. Don’t say ‘Why are you always late for meetings?’ Say: ‘Why were you late again this afternoon?’ In other words, don’t just accuse, state facts.
  • Be honest. Early critical feedback can prevent a bad situation developing into a terrible one!

When you’re on the receiving end of critical feedback, don’t be defensive. As Oscar Wilde said, ‘Experience is the name we give our mistakes.’ Thank the person giving the feedback. Listen carefully to what is being said. Don’t argue, even if you think the criticism is unfair. Simply state your disagreement and move on. Judge if the feedback is valid. If it is, decide how you will use it in the future. If it is not, disregard it and move on.
As a second-language speaker, assertiveness can help compensate for any linguistic shortcomings you may have:
  • In international meetings you will feel more able to make your contribution felt and native speakers will not be able to dominate you.
  • In negotiations you will know exactly what you want to achieve and always be on the lookout for win-win solutions.
  • In interviews you will appear more calm and confident and more able to ‘sell’ yourself in an appropriate way.
  • In presentations you will seem less nervous and more likely to speak naturally and convincingly.

So remember:
Being assertive means saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

Developing your assertiveness allows you to build your self-confidence and self-esteem so that you are more effective in both personal and professional interactions.

Becoming assertive can help you determine an appropriate winning personal strategy for yourself.

Be positive — Be pro-active — Be yourself!

Schlagwörter: Geschäftsreise, Englisch, Geschäftsenglisch, Business English

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