Assertiveness has its place in the workplace right next to courtesy and respect

Q 'Manners' seem to be in the spotlight recently. Is there a place for being polite in the business world or is aggression and direct speaking the way to make sure you don't get rolled over?

A There is always time in the workplace for courtesy and respect. We all know we like to be valued so why would anyone else be different?

Respecting others means listening and taking time to find out a little more about your colleagues. We do not work with robots, so be emotionally intelligent. I'm not talking about being intrusive rather, the courtesies of saying "good morning", looking people in the eye and not checking emails while you are on the phone. The one thing that makes my blood boil is someone tapping away on a BlackBerry during a meeting. I feel like shouting "I'm not stupid" when they hide it under the table. Make your excuses and leave or, if you stay, please give me the courtesy of listening, questioning and challenging.

Being assertive does not clash with manners, it complements them. Respect the individual and ensure you are clear and directive. When there is a need to be critical, ensure it is face-to-face and in private but always praise in public. Listen to your critics and answer them appropriately but as a certain mother-in-law has discovered never be rude or personal.

Q I've been in my job for two years and feel I am not getting any recognition for all the work I am churning out. Other colleagues have either moved into different roles in the company or have left. Should I be looking to do the same?

A One of the phrases in your question tells me a lot about your attitude: "churning out" work. It may be something your bosses have also recognised it hardly sounds that you're proud of your work or that it holds much value for anyone in the organisation.

What passion do you bring to your role? Are you doing just enough to get by? If so, you have only yourself to blame. Take risks, put your head above the parapet, produce something outstanding. Wake yourself up.

What does recognition look like to you? Is it praise, a bonus or perhaps status? Look at it like a project and work out the business case. Whingeing will get you nowhere. Action will. Look at your colleagues who have moved on to different roles. Has your company's profile changed? Are there opportunities others have recognised? Are there gaps in your skills that you need to work on?

Accept you are being left behind - and work out why.

If you have a question for Sue, email her