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  • Melissa Sims

The Goldilocks Conundrum

I saw an article today about “loud quitting” now being the latest workplace dissatisfaction trend. I am so over all of these little social media colloquialisms at this point, but I will touch on it for the sake of this topic. Loud quitting is basically being an employee being unhappy with their current position/pay/hours/company OUT LOUD. They are unhappy with their job and want everyone to know, and possibly get others to join in their misery. Obviously this is going to create a pretty toxic environment and managers/leaders should be addressing this kind of behavior immediately.

What I honestly feel is lacking in much of the workforce (and in much of the world) right now is assertiveness: the ability to confidently express your needs and beliefs without harming or quieting the needs and beliefs of others. We’ve become so extreme - either being completely aggressive, or completely passive - that we are losing our ability to communicate effectively. Employees aren’t being assertive with their needs and desires, and employers are fearful that the pool of available workers has dwindled so miserably in the past three years that they can’t be assertive either - in an effort to keep retention high. It’s a lose-lose situation. This creates a cycle of discontent with both parties, and is detrimental to a healthy, successful team.

When it is time to speak up for ourselves, how we do so can greatly impact the outcome of the situation. Too soft? You likely won’t get what you want or sway someone your way, and you’ll end up coming across as meek and easily manipulated. Too hard? Same result, except you come across as unapproachable and definitely not collaborative. Finding that sweet spot, or as Goldilocks would say “just right,” can be incredibly elusive for many. But those that know where this sweet spot is tend to get what they want, while making those around them happy with the result.

In order to be an effective, influential, and flexible leader, you simply must display some degree of assertiveness. But this relies heavily on a leader’s self-confidence and lack of impostor syndrome. Even if you have good judgement, without assertiveness, you’ll be seen as an ineffective leader. In fact, leaders that have assertiveness and perhaps not the best judgement are actually rated higher than those without the quality of assertiveness. Obviously, having both good judgement and assertiveness is the goal. Leaders that can balance this communication style with empathy and honesty, and be able to be flexible in their communication, depending on the context of the situation, are going to be the most successful.

Can you identify the traits of an assertive person? We have a great video for you to watch on our Youtube about it.

Do you think you are assertive? Or do you border on the other styles? If you are lacking in assertiveness, here are some things that might be contributing to it:

  • You don’t know what you want, and are indecisive.

  • You can’t accurately identify your emotions and tend to label everything as anger.

  • You don’t put your needs first.

  • You would rather be a well-liked leader than an effective one (the two can co-exist!)

  • You frequently become flustered in a challenging situation.

  • You have impostor syndrome: Insecurities about your abilities, skills, and talents, and are afraid of being “found out”

  • You don’t like to be challenged, and fear retaliation.

If any of these sound familiar, you may need to learn some new techniques to help improve your assertiveness. If you can, do a little self-reflection this week and see if any of these might apply to you. Being assertive can help you to increase your self-confidence, self-love, and self-respect. You can also increase the effectiveness of communication during conflict or confrontation, earn respect, and get what you need while empowering others.

There are so many facets of assertive leadership that we will be doing a brief series in the next few leadership updates. We want to help you gain the skills and knowledge to help you understand how this communication style can change the dynamic of your team. We will be providing some tips in our next leadership update, so stay tuned!


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