How to Measure Assertiveness

August 11, 2020 Evan Theys

How comfortable are we standing up for our point of view and confidently making the case for it when needed? It depends on our level of assertiveness. How can talent decision-makers identify this trait in candidates and employees? 

measuring assertiveness


How comfortable are we standing up for our point of view and confidently making the case for it when needed? A lot of this depends on our level of assertiveness.

High levels of assertiveness can be respected by others and yet can also be perceived as confrontational. Low levels of assertiveness may be viewed as acquiescing too easily and yet these people may be more likely to be collaborative and thoughtful in group settings. There is a need for both forms of behavior in our workplaces and understanding the assertiveness of a candidate is important.

Assertiveness is just one of the personality areas measured in our ADEPT-15® questionnaire.

How is Assertiveness Seen in Behavior?

The degree of an individual’s assertiveness impacts not only how he or she interacts with others at work but also how they are perceived. As with all personality characteristics, there are both positives – and potential watch-outs – when scoring at either end of the dimension.

Below are some of the upsides as well as some of the things to look out for as it pertains to assertiveness.

The Leverage Points

Those who score high on the ADEPT-15 Assertiveness scale tend to be:

  • Always willing to share thoughts and opinions.
  • Socially confident.
  • Able to advocate for unpopular opinions/decisions.

Those scoring low are likely to:

  • Prefer collaborative as opposed to competitive environments.
  • Be cautious and thoughtful in group settings.
     

The Watch-Outs

Watch out for the following with high scorers on Assertiveness:

  • Energized by competition and debate, but confrontational and aggressive at times.
  • Argumentative and unwilling to listen.

For the low scorers on Assertiveness, watch out for:

  • Giving in to others too easily as may not want to offend others or appear aggressive.
  • Being hesitant about making decisions that impact others or expressing open disagreement.

The Role of Assertiveness in the Workplace

Wherever an individual scores on the continuum between either end of the Assertiveness dimension (cautious vs. social confidence) impacts how they interact with others at work, and how they are perceived.

You may notice that they:

Exhibit Self-Confidence

Individuals with high Assertiveness scores are resolute and strong minded. This ensures that they are confident in their decisions and willing to defend and explain their perspectives when confronted by others.

Influence Others

Since high scorers are more assertive and forceful, they are typically very quick to express and advocate for their ideas and opinions, even when faced with confrontation or resistance. As such, they may find it much easier to try to get others’ buy-in to their thoughts, though they must be careful that their style does not overpower others or stop them from sharing their own ideas.

Provide Direction

Those high on Assertiveness, are often assured in their ability to provide directions and highly inclined to act in a firm and direct manner. Given this, high scorers often display an aptitude for demonstrating confidence when providing directions to others.

Compensating for an Individual's Assertiveness Score

An individual’s Assertiveness score will play out when they are required to put forward and stand up for an opinion or view and how this shows up in terms of working style will be influenced by their scores on the other ADEPT-15 dimensions.

When Assertiveness scores are low, take a look at:

When an individual scores high on the Assertiveness dimension, look closely at these areas:

  • Higher Cooperativeness, Humility, and Awareness. These dimensions can mitigate high-scoring Assertiveness individuals from being overly competitive or overbearing,

For more about assessing Assertiveness in your candidates and employees, take a look at our personality questionnaire ADEPT-15®

Reach out to us now to find out more about ADEPT-15®

About ADEPT-15®

ADEPT-15® is the most advanced, secure, and award-winning* personality test available. With over 50 years of personality, leadership, and psychometric research combined with an adaptive approach to assessment design, ADEPT-15® measures 15 personality traits critical to successful workplace performance. It looks at our preferences, work styles and tendencies as well as what gives us energy and our possible blind spots. It indicates our strengths and areas for development as well as the leadership style we may use, and how others may see us.

*M. Scott Myers Award for Applied Research & International Personnel Assessment Council Innovations in Assessment Award

About the Author

Evan Theys

Evan serves as the leader for Aon's Assessment Solutions Product Development team in North America. In this role, he manages and supports the development of innovative, forward-thinking assessment solutions, and partners with leaders across Aon to develop the strategy for the global products portfolio as well as bringing new products to market.

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