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OLC Student Community Coordinator

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Diary of a Marketing Co-op: How to be Assertive

The latest post in Diary of a Marketing Co-op asks some questions about asserting yourself:

I never thought about needing to exercise any large amount of assertiveness in my next Co-op, so one thing that’s taken some adjustment has been giving feedback to our ad agency. It involves taking my own thoughts, the needs of product marketing, and my bosses, deciding which aspects need to be addressed and which ones are off base, and then telling our agency what to do. My little brother would argue that I’ve never had a problem being bossy, but it’s a different story when I’m telling people who’ve been doing their job a lot longer than I’ve been around that they need to change their work.

I’ve always had fairly straight forward work relationships, I know how to compose emails to superiors and to those I’m managing. I know how to shift tone with different co-workers, but this is a new experience. I guess you can say that’s been my learning curve of the month: how-do I compose emails or conduct phone calls that will get my point across and the work done, while trying to balance the assertive tone needed to make that happen with the built in sense of respect and slight intimidation I have for the people at the other end?

It isn’t something that doesn't just apply to outside partners either, the same situation can come up with co-workers or managers from other departments. One way to side-step the issue entirely is passing it up the chain of command: bring your manager in, and have them back up your authority on the subject. It's not always prefered, after all, you need to fight a certain amount of your own battles, but sometimes it's necessary. Of course that works both ways, once I found myself unknowingly arguing with a high-ranking director of another department, after insisting that I couldn’t back down from a necessary deadline. That’s one of the problems of working with departments across the country, you don’t always know who’s on the other end of every conference call.

Of course, sometimes it’s just easier to back down. When the matter at hand comes down to using a slightly different image or rewriting some copy (again!) it can be easier, and beneficial to your sanity to let some things go.

So let me know, how do you deal with balancing the need to be assertive with showing respect when needed? Comment here or talk to me on Twitter @lizzmoffat or @SFU_OLC.

Beyond the Blog

  • Check out the Communications Co-op Blog, Communique, for more stories like Elizabeth's!
OLC Student Community Coordinator

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