One of the ingredients to business success is the way you communicate with the people with whom you interact in your business. The most important categories of people you interface with regularly are your customers and suppliers. But you also meet several other people whose decisions impact your business either positively or negatively. How do you communicate with them? Learning assertive communication is what will enable you to win in various situations.
However, a lack of assertive communication skills has led many Ugandans to business failure. Most Ugandans long to own a business. And many ably start profitable enterprises. But after a few years of operation, they collapse. Though there are many other reasons behind the failure of these businesses, a good number of them collapse because of poor communication skills.
Do not take it lightly the way it may sound to you. It’s a big problem that requires attention if you’re running any business. Check yourself and the people you employ! How do they communicate to customers and other people with whom they relate? If you didn’t know, think about it now!
What Is Assertive Communication?
To understand well the points I am going to discuss in this post, it’s essential to know first what I mean by assertive communication. The word assertion on a broader perspective means
- Standing up for your rights in such a way that you do not violate another person’s rights.
- Expressing your needs, wants, thoughts, feelings, opinions and beliefs in a direct, honest and appropriate way.
Assertive communication is, therefore, the ability to express your needs, feelings, thoughts, opinions and beliefs in a direct, honest and appropriate way. People who communicate assertively believe that:
- They have their needs to meet.
- Other people involved also have needs to be met.
- They have rights, so do others.
Why Do Most Ugandans Do Not Possess Skills Related to Assertive Communication?
During the time I have spent interacting with people in my different careers, I have observed that most Ugandans don’t have skills related to assertive communication. Inability to communicate assertively acts as a stumbling block to success in their endeavours.
One of the reasons why they don’t possess these skills is the environment in which they’re brought up. There are parts of Uganda where you go and find people with aggressive behaviour. These characters are visible in the way they behave and the way they talk. Where there is aggressiveness, there is equally nonassertiveness.
For instance, in a family where the family head is aggressive, there are high chances of finding family members behaving aggressively. There are also chances that you’ll find those who feel not worthwhile members of that family, hence in society. They choose to shy away and behave nonassertively.
Aggressive and Nonassertive Beliefs affect our behaviour greatly
People who grow up in an aggressive environment in many cases pick aggressive behaviours. They hold and grow up with beliefs like:
- The attack is the best form of defence. And I think you see this kind of behaviour so common among Ugandans because they believe that aggression gets results.
- Other people cannot be trusted to do a good job. They think they’re superior. They’re the only ones to do it all because they know best.
- Other people should stand on their own two feet. If they cannot, it’s up to them.
- I must give as good as I get.
On the other hand, people who grow up in an aggressive environment may sometimes become nonassertive when they fail to cope with the feisty characters of others. They hold and grow up with beliefs like:
- I am not as important as others. Others are better than me.
- My opinions do not count.
- Other people will not like me if I say what I want.
- It’s better to keep your head down in times of conflict.
- I should put others first.
- I must get this perfect.
From the points above, you can now realise that our beliefs are reflected in our behaviours and the way we communicate. Your beliefs determine the way you communicate. People who grow up in an aggressive environment will either talk aggressively or nonassertively.
Aggressive and nonassertive communication does not in any way lead to success in business. It’s the reason why one of the ways to teach an entrepreneurial culture in people is by helping them to learn assertive communication skills.
How Assertive Communication Leads to Business Success
If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be confident. When you’re assertive, you are in control of your feelings, opinions, thoughts, needs and beliefs. And this how it will help you in business.
Assertive communicators succeed in the business world because they know how to communicate effectively. They can say ‘no’ without annoying others because they:
- Understand that others have the right to ask, and they have the right to say ‘NO’.
- Acknowledge and thank the person: “Thank you for asking Charles….., but I’d rather not….”
- Give a reason for saying ‘NO’ rather than inventing an excuse.
- Make their ‘NO’ polite and concise by giving their real reason: “I’d prefer not to……because…,”
- Identify themselves with their decisions rather than hiding behind rules, procedures, precedents and third parties.
- Ask for more time to consider if they need it.
When you communicate effectively, you win because people believe in them. They find you approachable, understandable and pleasant. This kind of character brings you business.
Assertive communication leads to earning respect. Aggressive communicators, in most cases, annoy others. Instead of gaining the connection, they make people fear them. They build negative perceptions in the minds of others. It is not healthy for any business.
On the other hand, nonassertive communicators are usually shy. Shy people are often submissive, which is not useful in business.
Ability to Initiate
Usually, people who communicate assertively can initiate actions to achieve results. They also allow learning from the feedback they get. It helps a lot to build a successful business because if you cannot initiate, it means you cannot be creative. And becoming creative is key to business success.
Ability to Influence
Assertive communicators are excellent leaders because they can change rather than coerce others to do things. In business, you may have employees whom you want to work towards your business goals. It is not easy if you don’t possess assertive communication skills.
One of the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs is self-confidence. They don’t depend on luck. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. People with self-confidence are also passionate about what they do. Because they believe in themselves, they get clients begging to do business with them.
Ability to Negotiate
Assertive communicators can negotiate. Negotiation is the process of agreeing with others. And assertiveness is about asking what you want while respecting the needs and wishes of others. One of the key ingredients to effective negotiation is having assertive communication skills.
In business, many negotiations go on from time to time. If you cannot negotiate favourably, it’s hard to build a successful business.
Assertive communication is a decisive factor in the success of any business. When you start a business, it’s quite essential to learn how to communicate effectively with your customers and any other people you encounter. Make it part of your personal development. That’s how you will be able to survive in business even in hard times.