Top 6 Ways To Be Assertive

Many people find that being assertive is uncomfortable. It is often easier to go with the flow than to assert your presence in a situation.

Expressing your feelings in a healthy and constructive way is a difficult task. It is easy for the receiving party to get defensive, or for you to relay your emotions aggressively.

You don’t have to wait until you reach the end of your patience to set healthy boundaries in a relationship. Boundaries are established when you assert your limits to the other party you’re communicating with.

Randy Paterson, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself at Work and in Relationships,stated:

Assertiveness is all about being present in a relationship.”

It is easy to slip into being passive or aggressive when responding to an unfavorable confrontation.

This is instinctually the responses to have. When your fear response is stimulated,fight or flight protocol initiates. You want to avoid the stressoraltogether or fight it head on.

There is another way. Joyce Marter, LCPCPsychotherapist, and owner of Urban Balance, LLC, stated:


It is drastically different to be assertive, over being passive or aggressive. Paterson helps us to understand the differences with this analogy:

In the passive style, all the world is allowed on stage but for you — your role is to be the audience and supporter for everyone else. In the aggressive style, you’re allowed on stage but you spend most of your time shoving the others off, like in a lifelong sumo match. With the assertive style, everyone is welcome onstage. You are entitled to be a full person, including your uniqueness, and so are others.”

Learn to relay your feelings effectively with these 6 ways to be assertive.

  1. Start Small

Changing your communication style isn’t going to happen overnight. It begins with small changes that improve over time.

Use less threatening situations to assert yourself to practice. When you are asked where you want to eat for dinner, give a clear, decisive answer to where you choose; rather than responding with, “It doesn’t matter, wherever you want is okay.”

As you get more comfortable with being assertive you can move into bigger scenarios, like confronting your boss about passing you up for a promotion.

  1. Learn To Say No

Many people avoid saying “no” when they should, for fear of confrontation or rejection.

If you have a problem saying “no”, try to imagine yourself in the shoes of someone you care about. If you would want them to say no to a request, it is safe to give yourself the respect of saying no as well.

When a request is asked of you, it is okay to tell them you want time to think about it. This gives you ample opportunity to reflect on the request, and whether it is a healthy choice.

  1. Let Go Of Guilt

Marter says:

Assertive behavior that involves advocating for oneself in a way that is respectful of others is not wrong — it is healthy self-care.”

It is essential you forgive yourself when being assertive. When done properly, assertive communication is respectful for you and the other person.

Allow yourself to be assertive in a relationship without feeling bad about it; know it is what’s best in the long term of a healthy relationship.

  1. Express Needs And Feelings

Don’t allow your needs and feelings to take a back seat when communicating with others. You have a right to have your needs met in a relationship just as much as the other party.

Use “I” statements when communicating a confrontational matter. This helps the other party to not feel defensive, and the substance of the conversation will more likely be heard.

You could say, “I feel unloved when you withhold affection from me.” Rather than saying, “You don’t love me!”

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  1. Respect Yourself And Others

Omitting your feelings from communication is not respecting your needs and values as an individual.

As you are being assertive with others, have their respect in mind, as well, by asserting yourself privately. Trying to make a public stand for yourself is going beyond the scope of effective communication.

  1. Be Self-Aware

Many of us are passive or aggressive without realizing it. It may be the way your parents communicated, or a survival technique if you are in a toxic relationship.

Take the time to be self-aware of how you are communicating with others. Take note of where you need to be assertive and then apply the steps to do so.

Low self-esteem makes it hard to be assertive. If this is something you struggle with, write down the negative thoughts that prevent you from being assertive, and replace them with positive thoughts.

Write down, “I can’t say that I am unable to babysit Tuesdays anymore because then she won’t want to be my friend.” Replace that negative thought with, “When I tell her I can’t babysit anymore, she will respect my decision if she is a friend who values my needs.”

Being assertive is a lifestyle, where all communication is made deliberately and with the respect of all parties in mind.

Watch your confidence rise as you effectively discuss issues with poise and efficacy. The transition takes time, but you are worth it.

Let us know in the comments section if you have a success story where you were assertive.