How to Be Assertive - 5 Tips for Assertiveness

By Remez Sasson

How to Be Assertive

What is Assertiveness?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines assertiveness as:

"Disposed to or characterized by bold or confident statements and behavior."

Wikipedia defines assertiveness as:

"The quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive."

Assertiveness means standing up for your rights, and expressing your thoughts, feelings and beliefs clearly and fearlessly. This is done politely, while considering the rights, feelings and beliefs of other people.

We need this skill in all walks of life, when we talk to a salesperson at the store, deal with service providers or with clients, and in a myriad of other situations.

Assertiveness enables us to act in your own best interests, while considering the right of others. In this, assertiveness differs from aggressiveness.

Sometimes, on the surface, assertiveness might resemble aggressiveness, because both of them involve firm behavior and action. However, there is a great difference between the two.

Assertiveness considers the rights of others and does not hurt anyone. On the other hand, aggressive behavior is too bold, inconsiderate, and uses loud voice, force, and sometimes vulgarity and verbal violence.

3 Behavior Options:

Suppose you disagree with your boss, or are upset with how he treats you. You have 3 choices:

1) Stay passive, swallow your feeling and say nothing. This will make you upset and angry, create resentment, and undermines your efficiency and your health.

2) Be aggressive, and show your anger and dissatisfaction loudly and angrily. This will harm your relations with your boss and you might be fired.

3) Act assertively, telling your boss without fear how you feel, when you disagree with him, and when you are upset with something he said. Do this in a diplomatic manner and with politeness, suggesting a way to settle the matter.

As you see, the third option is the best. This calls for inner strength, self-discipline and acting calmly.

Passivity versus Assertiveness

You behave passively, when you outwardly accept what others say and behave accordingly, while inside you there is disagreement. With this behavior, you allow other people control your life. This kind of behavior shows lack of self-confidence and self-esteem.

  • You choose this behavior when you want to avoid disagreements.
  • Every time you don't express your opinions, for fear of not being liked, you act passively.
  • Being passive gives the reins of your life to other people.
  • Passivity makes it difficult to say no.

Assertive behavior is quite the opposite:

  • An assertive person possesses self-confidence and self-esteem, and expresses what he or she thinks and feels.
  • This behavior gives you the confidence to insist on doing things your way when you think you are right.
  • It enables you to resist manipulation and to prevent people from exploiting you.
  • When there is assertiveness, there is no fear to express disagreement.

You see how assertive people get their way, do things, and stand up for their rights, and wonder what is the secret.

There is no secret.

These people were either born with this skill, or developed it, consciously or unconsciously.

You too, can develop this skill.

One of the best methods for gaining assertiveness is by working on your willpower and self-discipline. When these traits of character are strong, you express assertiveness in a natural way. I have written quite a few articles about this topic, available here, at this website.

I have also devoted a whole chapter to this subject in my book, Strengthen Your Willpower and Self Discipline.

How to Be Assertive - 5 Tips

1. Being assertive can be tough at first, for people who are usually passive or try to please other people, but this is not a reason to give up. Realize that you always have other options in every situation. You can always act differently from how you usually behave and act. You are not limited in your thinking and actions.

2. Start with small matters that don't require much assertiveness, such as:

  • Asking for a better seat in the theater.
  • Asking for a better table at a restaurant.
  • Requesting a bigger sandwich, or a warm and not a lukewarm cup of coffee.
  • Asking someone to call you later, when you are busy.
  • Learn to say 'no' at stores, when a salesperson persuades you to buy something you don't want.

3. Express your opinions and thoughts. Nobody knows what you want, unless you say it. Express yourself calmly, with consideration and respectfulness.

4. Avoid the venting of all kinds of excuses and apologies when you ask for something. Just state what you want and why, without apologies.

5. Practice being assertive in front of the mirror, as if your image in the mirror is someone else, with whom you are talking.

Imagine a situation that requires assertiveness, and talk to your image in the mirror, as if it is another person.

Rehearse various situations in following manner:

  • Imagine talking to someone, who goes and stands before you when you are waiting in line at the store.
  • Imagine talking assertively to a salesperson.
  • Imagine acting assertively at work with colleagues or customers.

Think, where you need this skill, and act and talk assertively to your image in the mirror.

Rehearsing in front of the mirror, will make it easier to repeat this behavior and attitude in real situations.

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How To Become Assertive