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September 27, 2023

Becoming Professionally Assertive With Colleagues

Strategies to guide difficult conversations and build confidence when speaking with colleagues.

Effective communication is at the very heart of what we do to support those in our care. It’s important we all have the confidence to state our opinions, to make sure our voices are heard, and to know that our opinions feed into discussions about the individuals we support.

This is not always simple to achieve. We work in often stressful environments, with a range of colleagues who may have different experiences and opinions. Heightened emotions and challenging situations can really test our working relationships. It can be particularly difficult to be assertive if we are new to our roles or an organisation, or if we’re working with someone in a senior position to us.

But our voices matter. Together, we have a far greater understanding of the individuals in our care than if we’re working in isolation trying to do our own thing. Being professionally confident with those we work alongside supports the overall culture of a setting, and can have a positive impact on our entire organisation.

Shared core values

Nobody wants to work in an environment where they feel like they’re ignored or that their opinions don’t matter. It can contribute to low morale and makes us less likely to work at our best. There’s no doubt that feeling listened to and valued is the foundation of a successful team.

Having a set of shared core values we all agree on is a good way to frame our work as professionals. These values describe how we would like to be treated, how we treat others and underpin the ethos of our setting.

Having a voice

Sometimes, we need to make tough decisions in the interests of those in our care. Sometimes, we have to have difficult conversations with our colleagues. And sometimes, we have to speak up about a concern. In these challenging moments, we need to be confident in speaking up in an appropriate way that is conducted with professionalism.

When core values underpin the ethos of a setting, we can all feel that we have a safe platform to voice our opinions. It isn’t about being the most vocal, but having the confidence to speak openly without judgement. Keeping our core values at the centre of our practice can help us frame our thinking and conversations, so we’re always acting in the best interests of those in our care.

Modelling behaviour

As well as modelling the behaviour we’d like to see from those in our care, our behaviour can model how we would like to be treated by our colleagues. Recognising how we present ourselves to others can help us be assertive when we see problems, have ideas about ways to improve things, or want to share important information.

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