Assertiveness: how to stand up for yourself and still win the respect of others

Are you frustrated by the inability to express your opinion or being criticized? Perhaps you are averse to confrontations or lack confidence in speaking up.


You may have felt powerless to change it at the time. However, by being more assertive, you can stand for yourself and be a confident communicator.

Assertiveness is an essential communication skill. Being assertive can allow you to express yourself clearly and defend your views while respecting others’ rights and beliefs. You can increase your self-esteem by being assertive and gaining respect from others. This is especially important if you are prone to taking on too many responsibilities or having trouble saying “No”.


Some people are naturally assertive. You can be assertive even if you aren’t one of these people.

What is Assertiveness?

It’s about expressing your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in clear, honest, and appropriate ways.

Important to remember that:

Being assertive is a way to respect others’ thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. This skill allows us to communicate our emotions and dissatisfactions effectively while maintaining harmony. This topic is covered in many communication and social skills training courses.


While assertiveness is not a guarantee of victory, although assertiveness is important, it also considers the rights and authority that others have. Someone assertive can balance their needs with those of other parties.

The Importance of Assertiveness

There are many benefits to assertiveness. There will be occasions when you need to deal with government officials, media representatives, and managers. You may be treated unfairly by managers, government officials, and the media. When such situations arise, assertiveness becomes more than a skill. It’s a great way to address unjust treatment without creating chaos at work.

You also get other benefits from assertiveness:

  • Self-confidence and self-esteem can be gained
  • Recognize and understand your feelings
  • Respect others
  • Communication would be improved
  • Make it a win-win situation 
  • Improve your decision-making skills
  • Establish honest relationships
  • More job satisfaction

As assertiveness is based upon mutual respect, it’s a diplomatic and effective communication style. Because you are willing to speak up for yourself and defend your interests, assertiveness shows you respect yourself; this shows that you are aware of the rights of others and are willing to work with them on resolving any conflicts.

It’s not only what you say but how you say it. Direct and respectful communication is key. Your message will be delivered with the greatest success if you are assertive. Your message could be lost if you communicate too passively or aggressively. People will react too quickly to your style.

It is not always easy to recognize assertive behaviour because assertiveness can be confused with aggression. It’s important to distinguish the two behaviour types clearly.

Being Assertive

To be assertive, you must consider the rights, desires, needs, and wishes of others.

To assert yourself, you encourage others to be honest and open about their opinions, desires, and feelings so that both sides can act responsibly.

Assertive behaviour includes:

  • Openly expressing your thoughts, feelings and wishes and encouraging others to do the same.
  • Listening to others’ views and responding appropriately, regardless of whether you agree with them.
  • Accepting responsibility and being able to delegate to others.
  • Regularly express appreciation for others’ efforts or achievements.
  • Acknowledge your mistakes and offer an apology.
  • Self-control is important.
  • Respect others’ rights.

People may have difficulty asserting themselves for many reasons. They might behave passively or aggressively.

Being Aggressive

If someone is aggressive towards another person, their self-esteem and rights are compromised.

Aggressive behaviour doesn’t take into account the feelings or views of others. Aggressive behaviour will not show appreciation or praise for others. It can also lead to a negative response that may cause others to feel down. Aggressive responses encourage others to behave in a non-assertive manner, whether passively or aggressively.

Many aggressive behaviours can be displayed, such as rushing someone or telling them instead of asking, ignoring another person’s feelings.

You need to have good interpersonal skills; this means you must be aware of all possible ways to communicate and what each response might elicit. It can lead to negative consequences in interpersonal relationships and even hinder progress.

It can be distressing or frightening to be aggressively spoken to. The receiver may be left wondering who or what caused the aggression.

People can manipulate others to fulfil their desires and wishes if they don’t express their thoughts clearly. A manipulation is a form of covert aggression, while humour can be used aggressively.

Being Passive

Reacting passively or non-assertive can signify compliance with others’ wishes and lead to a loss of individual rights and self-confidence.

People often adopt a passive attitude because they feel the need to be loved by others. These people don’t consider themselves equals as they put more emphasis on the feelings, rights and wishes of others. Passiveness can lead to the inability to communicate thoughts and feelings and people doing things that are not in their best interests to please others. They allow others to assume responsibility, lead and make decisions on their behalf.

There are risks to being Assertive.

Certain national and organizational cultures may prefer that people be passive and view assertive behaviour as rude or offensive. Research also suggests that assertive behaviour can be affected by gender; men are more likely to get rewarded for being assertive than women, but this doesn’t mean you have to accept the status quo. Instead, be bold and avoid naivety.

You could also be too assertive. You may become too assertive and stop listening to other people’s ideas; this can only lead to disconnection and alienation among your colleagues; this is why it’s important to start small and experiment with different approaches until you find the right approach for your workplace. It can be very effective to build your self-esteem and profile by being assertive at the right moment.

How can You Improve Your Assertiveness?

Many people lack the ability to communicate their dissatisfaction in the best way.

These tips will help you do that.

1. Take note of your style.

Are you more likely to voice your opinion or stay silent? Are you willing to accept additional work, even if your plate is full? Do you judge or blame quickly? Are you afraid of people talking to or dreading to talk to? Before you make any changes, it is important to understand your personality.

2. Respect yourself and your rights

You can be more assertive if you have a clear understanding of yourself and a strong belief that your intrinsic value and the value of your team and organization are well understood.

Self-belief is the foundation of assertive behaviour and self-confidence. This will allow you to see that you are worthy of respect and dignity, it will also give you the courage to assert your rights and defend your boundaries.

3. Be specific about the problem.

Communication is the best way to assert yourself. Communicate clearly and honestly about your grievances. Don’t talk about trivialities or beat around the bush. Prioritize the most critical matters.

4. Focus on the issue, not the people.

Be assertive, but not an author of confusion. It would help if you did not criticize the character of others or suggest they are unfair or biased towards you. Instead, describe how an unfortunate decision was made or the allegation. You can convince them that they have made an error and not a deliberate attempt at destroying you.

5. Confidently voice your needs and wants

You must ensure that you have the right priorities, needs, and wants to achieve your maximum potential.

Do not wait for someone to see what you are looking for. It’s possible you might wait forever! Set plans to achieve your goals.

Once you have done this, tell your boss or colleague what you need to accomplish these goals. Don’t be afraid to stand firm on your goals. Even if you don’t get what you want right now, you can politely ask if you can resubmit your request within six months.

You can make requests in a way that doesn’t compromise the needs of others. You want people to help, and being aggressive or pushy is likely to make them reluctant to do so. This could even lead to a breakdown in your relationship.

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6. Use the ‘I’ statement.

Without sounding accusatory, using “I” statements allows others to know your thoughts and feelings without being too explicit. Say, “I disagree”, rather than “You are wrong.” You can also say “I need your help” if you have a request. Keep your requests brief and precise.

7. Be confident

It would be best if you showed courage and confidence, especially when dealing with people who are trying to cheat you. People will notice the seriousness of your complaints if you are bold in voicing them. They are motivated to take the corrective or necessary action.

8. Say no.

If you find it difficult to turn down requests, try saying, “No, I can’t do this now.” Be direct, and don’t hesitate to say so.

Keep it short if you need to explain.

9. Practice what you are going to say.

Practice general scenarios you might encounter if it is difficult to say or think what you want. Speak out loud what you are trying to communicate. You might also want to practice your speech from a script. You might consider role-playing with a friend, colleague, or other people to get clear feedback.

10. Use body language

Communication is more than just verbal. Even if you don’t feel it, be confident. Maintain a straight posture but lean forward. Maintain eye contact. Keep your facial expressions neutral or positive. Do not cross your legs or arms. You can practice assertive body language with a friend, colleague, or in front of the mirror.

11. Be calm and collected.

Most people find conflict difficult. You might feel angry, frustrated, or even like crying. These feelings are not unusual, but they can make it difficult to resolve conflicts. It will help if you do not get too emotional about a situation and if you do, please wait a while before you rush to resolve it. Keep calm. Relax and breathe slowly. Be steady and even with your voice.

12. Recognize that you can’t control the behaviour of other people

Do not accept responsibility for the reactions of others to your assertiveness. You can avoid reacting in the same manner to angry or resentful people, for example.

You can only control your behaviour and yourself, so try to remain calm and collected when things get heated. You have the right to do or say what you like as long as you respect others’ rights and don’t violate theirs.

13. Start small.

Practice your new skills first in low-risk situations before tackling a challenging situation at work; for example, practice assertiveness with a friend or partner. Afterwards, you can evaluate your approach and adjust it as needed.


To be assertive, you must find the right balance between passiveness, and aggression; this means being confident in your worth and self-esteem and recognizing that you have the right to what you desire. It means being strong in all situations.

Being assertive does not mean dominating or ignoring others to achieve your goals. Aggression is acting in your interests without considering the rights, feelings, and needs of others.

By identifying your needs and wants and positively communicating them, you can become more assertive and learn to say “no” when necessary. To communicate your feelings and thoughts clearly and effectively, you can use assertive communication techniques.

Although it won’t happen overnight, if you continue to practice these techniques, you will gradually build the self-belief and confidence you need to be assertive. You will likely also find yourself more productive, efficient, and respected.

Become more Assertive
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