Balancing Assertiveness

Sarah Thompson October 23, 2018

Leadership Insights, Self-Improvement

There seems to be little wiggle room for where people land when it comes to assertiveness on the EQ scales. It’s either high or it’s low and there is nothing in between. Other EQ scales, such as emotional expression and decision making, present in a variety of score sets. Yet accountability always tips one way or the other – leaving little room for balance.

When I coach, I notice that people with high Assertive results on their EQ will often speak about how this attributes to their success and accomplishments. While at the same time they acknowledge that their assertiveness may be perceived inaccurately by those around them. On the flip side, when coaching people with low EQ scores I notice they tend to struggle with the idea of assertiveness in general. They often speak to their lower assertiveness as something of a necessity to maintain healthy relationships. The challenge is that low assertiveness gets in the way of results more often than not. This means that every EQ debrief I do, whether the person is high or low on the scale, turns into a ‘Let’s explore how to balance your assertiveness with other EQ traits’ kind of conversation.

For those with a high score, it is essential to balance your assertiveness with your empathy. Assertiveness and empathy are quite the pair. When used effectively,

they create an environment of collaboration. If you find yourself high on the assertiveness scale, be sure to utilize a healthy level of emotional expression by making space for others to speak while you to listen. Agree whenever you can and wait to express opposing viewpoints until others have been fully hear. When empathy and assertiveness are used in balance with each other, it creates a better understanding of both the issues and the feelings involved and the resolutions tend to be more effective overall.

When there is less comfort with assertiveness, you can balance your approach by tapping into your interpersonal relationships. Leverage your strong people skills as a pathway to meaningful conversations. Be sure to promote your own views, leaning in on the relationships you have already created and trusting others are willing to hear and accept your message. Once you find the balance between assertiveness and interpersonal relationships, you will find a better ‘give and take’ relationship emerge with those around you. You will have more influence and provide more value to those who seek your guidance and leadership. High assertiveness balanced with interpersonal skills, means you are able to stand up for what both you and your team believe in.

Sarah Thompson

A creative learning strategist with a passion for aligning culture and brand to training systems, Sarah brings action oriented ideas to her client relationships in a fun and approachable way. She is known for her work on engaging and developing millennial talent.