It’s paramount that we are able to voice our concerns assertively and professionally says Lindsay Taylor

We are inevitably going to meet individuals and organisations whose way of working does not match our own.  People have different opinions, perspectives, values and beliefs. If we feel the working practices, behaviours or actions of another are detrimental or damaging then absolutely we can voice our concerns, put forward our own opinions and suggest a more positive way forward.

This afternoon a colleague spoke of her ordeals as, in the early stages of growing her organisation, she met with resistance from another company. In her words, she felt there was a “ganging up” against her as the company and its members made it quite clear they did not like the way she was conducting business.  Whilst my colleague and the company in question were working towards the same ideal and aim, there was a misalignment with how this was being achieved.

I was recently in a situation where I realised a relatively new trainer on the scene was poaching clients from another fellow trainer. This went against what I consider to be professional integrity. I wanted to give the new trainer the benefit of the doubt – they were incredibly enthusiastic and maybe it was down to their lack of business acumen or awareness that they had ignored the “unwritten rule” here. I didn’t feel I needed to “gang up” on this trainer though – I have better things to spend my energy and time on. But I did want this trainer to know that I was disgruntled. I wanted to voice my opinion in a professional, assertive way.

It’s paramount that we remain professional professionals and are able to voice our “disgruntlements” assertively and professionally. In the case of my colleague feeling “ganged up on” I would suggest (and remember, this is my opinion) that the company did not use a professional, assertive response.

So, here’s a simple yet effective model to use when delivering an assertive message. The AIDA model is based on “non-violent communication” and is an acronym as follows:

Acknowledge & ActionI understand/I appreciate (acknowledge the other person’s position and “step into their shoes”)
When …… (identify the action based on your first-hand experience)
ImpactI’m sure you understand/I’m sure you appreciate (get the other person to “step into your shoes”). The impact is……. (state the impact) and I feel…. (identify your feelings – we are emotive creatures and we need to take ownership of the feelings we are having)
Desired OutcomeI suggest (put forward an alternative behaviour – how this is going to work ideally for a win-win)
AgreementWhat do you think?  How does that work for you? (Open up the conversation and come to an agreement)

Let’s take the situation of the new, enthusiastic trainer and apply AIDA.

Acknowledge & ActionIt’s great that you are so enthusiastic about setting up as a trainer and I can see you are really keen to raise the profile of this profession. When you contacted xxxx’s clients to let them know of your training offerings,
ImpactI’m sure you understand that both xxxx and I felt really disappointed.  In our opinion this is not demonstrating professional integrity and it is an “unwritten rule” not to poach clients from other trainers.
Desired OutcomeI suggest you contact xxxx to apologise and assure xxxx and me that this won’t happen again.
AgreementWhat do you think?  How does that work for you?

What do you think?  Because, you know, you’re going to have an opinion on this.  And that’s okay.  As long as you remain a professional professional when sharing that opinion with me and others…

Lindsay Taylor is the Director of Your Excellency Limited. A former EA herself, she appreciates the challenges and diversities of the role. Lindsay is a preferred training provider with The Institute of Administrative Management (IAM), one of the oldest ... (Read More)

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