How To Assert Yourself in a Stressful Meeting

Have you ever held in your feelings during a meeting, not wanting to offend by speaking your mind? Then, afterwards, you think of all the things you SHOULD have said? 

Have you ever felt angry when someone wasn't giving you any space to express your point of view? Have you ever felt frustrated when someone was dominating the conversation and not seeming to be interested in what you might have to say? 

If you answer 'yes' some or all of these questions, and would like some practical advice for overcoming your frustration, keep reading... 

Here's an easy process you can use to help you feel more confident in changing the course of your meetings. 
It will assist you in you transforming your frustration into constructive action. Rather than silently steaming or saying something in your impatience that you'll later regret, follow this five-step process for assertive speaking: 
This process will increase your capacity to
assertively speak up, so others will listen rather than get defensive. 
To remember the five steps, here's a memory- 
enhancing phrase which you can use: 

Beware Or Feelings Will Really Rule! (BFWRR) 
Step 1: B is for Behaviour/ Observation
Step 2: F is for Feelings 

Step 3: W is for Wants
Step 4: R is for Request
Step 5: R is for Result 

Let's take an example of when stress might occur at your next meeting. Imagine the person leading the meeting is dominating the ‘air time’ and not giving you enough time and space to
respond or contribute. 
Step 1: 
B - The first step is to notice the behaviour that is triggering your discomfort. Summon up your courage to share your observation about that behaviour with the other person. Make an objective observation that is factual without any evaluation or interpretation added. For example, 
"I’m noticing the time and realising we only have a few minutes left in our meeting” 

Step 2: 
F - Express the feeling that you have in response to
that behaviour: 
"I'm feeling a sense of urgency (no blame… you are owning your own feelings) 

Step 3: 
W - State what you Want
"I would like to make sure that the whole team gets a chance to contribute their ideas before we leave." 

Step 4: 
R - Make a specific Request
"Can we have a check-in now to see if anyone else has something to add?" 

Step 5: 
R - Acknowledge the Result (and yourself for your courage OR begin the process again at noticing the behavioural response, the feelings and the wants/needs of you and the others.

By using this process, you are more likely to get a positive
response than if you either
a. held in your anger and felt resentful or
b. blew up at the person in frustration 

I realise this process takes courage and practice, so be easy on yourself as you're trying it out. As you get the feel for the five steps, you'll feel more and more confident asserting yourself. 

Sally Mabelle, ‘The Voice of Leadership’ Specialist.  -  Inspiring clear, confident, and connected communication for personal and cultural transformation.