Be Assertive: The How-To Guide

Learning to be more assertive can help you improve relationships, get promoted, reduce stress, and gain respect. Download "Be Assertive: The How-To Guide".
Table of contents

Here are four steps that can really help nice people grow and build the skill of assertiveness. One of the limitations that nice people have that prevents them from becoming more assertive has to do with their own self-confidence. Low self-esteem and low self-worth prevent us from being assertive. So, if we find our self-worth in what other people think about us, we allow them to define our existence. To get beyond being held captive to the opinion of other people we must, as Susan Scott said in her book Fierce Conversations , have the courage to interrogate reality.

You need to take a reality check on your own self-worth and how much you live by the opinions of other people. Only once you recognize a deficiency can you start the work of building our own self-confidence read this on 12 practical ways to build your self-confidence.

Quit Being a Pushover: How to Be Assertive

When you develop greater confidence in yourself, you can act, say, and do whatever must be done without the fear of what other people might think. If someone you know does something that you know is bad for them, if you really cared about them, you would tell them, or you should tell them. When you really value someone, you put that person above their short-term perception of you. Genuinely valuing someone means putting their best interests and their best future above their short-term feelings or discomfort. Also, put yourself in their shoes. Most of us would say yes to that.

Most of us want our friends to speak the truth in love about the things that really matter. Of course, there are people who would rather live a lie. Some people would rather not know the truth about themselves because knowing that truth would require reflection, action, and maybe even a major life transformation. Many people would rather live in denial. But the fact remains, really valuing someone else — really caring about their life and their future — is the prerequisite for assertiveness. Most nice people would say that they have self-confidence.

Most nice people would say that they do indeed value other people. Who knows how the other person will respond? Will they still like us? Will our relationship continue? The uncertainty can lead to fear which paralyzes us and prevents us from doing and saying the things we need to do and say. The only way to overcome fear is with courage.

To have the heart when your heart may seem weak. Lewis said that courage is the virtue at the testing point of every other virtue. In other words, whenever we want to be virtuous, it takes a step of courage. And in this case, assertiveness requires courage. One way that can help you to overcome the fear that many times prevents assertiveness is learning some techniques that make assertiveness a bit easier. Here are three that can help. Personalizing means framing your communication from your own perspective rather than attributing it to someone else. The words we say and how we say them have an emotional impact.

These phrases immediately raise emotional barriers and create defensiveness in the other person.

How To Be MORE Assertive

Address the behavior rather than the individual. Not particularly great for those who need something a bit more in depth but great for those who need a touch up or just want some basic outlines. Whilst it was great, it was nothing special. Perfect for those who need a quick refresher. Aug 30, Anthony L. Good Stuff This is a great read. I learned some new things and I was reminded of stuff that I already knew but haven't been using. I was reminded of how important it is to be assertive in all areas of my life. If you can get the things that you need and want by being assertive it puts you in a better position to give of yourself.

And don't we want to be in a position to give.

Be Assertive: The How-To Guide by Elizabeth Janice

I highly recommend this book. Oct 23, Heather rated it really liked it. Motivational short 25 page book with great thoughts and ideas! Great for anyone to read and to better themselves and help themselves in all aspects of their lives! Nov 12, Joel Ungar rated it liked it Shelves: Very short and kind of basic.

I think the author should have been more assertive to get this book to a length where it would have been really useful. Kim rated it it was amazing May 08, Peter rated it did not like it Jun 22, Scott Buday rated it liked it Jul 29, Rosie Estrin rated it liked it Dec 05, Robin Lewis rated it really liked it Aug 14, Felicia rated it liked it Aug 17, Anh rated it really liked it Sep 10, Dad rated it it was ok Nov 17, You assert your own rights while recognizing your boss's need to get the job done.

Assertive behavior may not be appropriate in all workplaces.

Mind Tools for Your Organization

Some organizational and national cultures may prefer people to be passive and may view assertive behavior as rude or even offensive. Research has also suggested that gender can have a bearing on how assertive behavior is perceived, with men more likely to be rewarded for being assertive than women. So, it pays to consider the context in which you work before you start changing your behavior.

One of the main benefits of being assertive is that it can help you to become more self-confident, as you gain a better understanding of who you are and the value that you offer. Assertiveness provides several other benefits that can help you both in your workplace and in other areas of your life.

In general, assertive people:. It's not easy to become more assertive, but it is possible. So, if your disposition tends to be more passive or aggressive, then it's a good idea to work on the following areas to help you to get the balance right:. While self-confidence is an important aspect of assertiveness, it's crucial that you make sure that it doesn't develop into a sense of self-importance. Your rights, thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires are just as important as everyone else's, but not more important than anyone else's.

If you're going to perform to your full potential then you need to make sure that your priorities — your needs and wants — are met. Don't wait for someone else to recognize what you need. You might wait forever! Take the initiative and start to identify the things that you want now. Then, set goals so that you can achieve them.

Once you've done this, you can tell your boss or your colleague exactly what it is that you need from them to help you to achieve these goals in a clear and confident way. And don't forget to stick to your guns. Even if what you want isn't possible right now, ask politely whether you can revisit your request in six months time. Find ways to make requests that avoid sacrificing others' needs. Remember, you want people to help you, and asking for things in an overly aggressive or pushy way is likely to put them off doing this and may even damage your relationship. Don't make the mistake of accepting responsibility for how people react to your assertiveness.

How to Be Assertive

If they, for example, act angry or resentful toward you, try to avoid reacting to them in the same way. Remember that you can only control yourself and your own behavior, so do your best to stay calm and measured if things get tense.


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As long as you are being respectful and not violating someone else's needs, then you have the right to say or do what you want. It's important to say what's on your mind, even when you have a difficult or negative issue to deal with. But you must do it constructively and sensitively. You can even allow yourself to be angry! But remember to control your emotions and to stay respectful at all times.


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If you don't agree with criticism that you receive then you need to be prepared to say so, but without getting defensive or angry. Remember that you can't possibly do everything or please everyone, so it's important that you protect your time and your workload by saying "no" when necessary. There are a number of simple but effective communication techniques that you can use to become more assertive.

Use "I want", "I need" or "I feel" to convey basic assertions and get your point across firmly. For example, "I feel strongly that we need to bring in a third party to mediate this disagreement.

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Then, after taking her point of view into consideration, express what you need from her. For example, "I understand that you're having trouble working with Arlene, but this project needs to be completed by Friday. Let's all sit down and come up with a plan together.