The Business Coach with Laura Murphy: “I’m being taken advantage of”

Question: “I’m a pretty good natured manager but want to be more assertive as I feel as though I’m being taken advantage of.” Mary

Answer: “True assertiveness is balancing the other person’s rights (to be treated with respect, to have an opinion, to be listened to) against your own, equal rights to the same things. It’s about taking people along with you rather than badgering them into submission. I’d want you to first consider those times when you felt your good nature was being taken advantage of, and what you said or did that led you to feel that your staff did not understand what outcomes you were looking for or expecting.

If you’re not sure what you want out of a situation then it might well be that your staff aren’t sure how they should respond to you because you are too accommodating. As with any management scenario, think through what you want, plan how you might respond to any active disagreement or passive resistance. Set some boundaries and stick to them so your good nature isn’t seen as a sign of weakness.

Be firm and use words that are natural to you: you’ll come over as genuine and carry more weight. Excessive please and thank you can be seen as submissive so should be used when appropriate rather than as padding – less is more. Use language that talks about what you’re going to achieve with them, rather than from them to build up trust and commitment.

So by strengthening your natural leadership style, your confidence will grow and those periods where you felt you were being taken advantage of will quickly reduce.


Laura Murphy is the founder of mtc2 ltd, a management consultancy, training and coaching company. Laura is an organisation development specialist and business coach. If you have a problem then contact her at

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Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality