Being assertive means being direct about what you need, want, feel or believe in a way that’s respectful of the views of others. It’s a communication skill that can reduce conflict, build your self-confidence and improve relationships in the workplace.

Here are some tips to help you learn to be more assertive.

  1. Make the decision to positively assert yourself. Commit to being assertive rather than passive or aggressive and start practising today.

  2. Aim for open and honest communication. Remember to respect other people when you are sharing your feelings, wants, needs, beliefs or opinions.

  3. Listen actively. Try to understand the other person’s point of view and don’t interrupt when they are explaining it to you.

  4. Agree to disagree. Remember that having a different point of view doesn’t mean you are right and the other person is wrong.

  5. Avoid guilt trips. Be honest and tell others how you feel or what you want without making accusations or making them feel guilty.

  6. Stay calm. Breathe normally, look the person in the eye, keep your face relaxed and speak in a normal voice.

  7. Take a problem-solving approach to conflict. Try to see the other person as your friend not your enemy.

  8. Practise assertiveness. Talk in an assertive way in front of a mirror or with a friend. Pay attention to your body language as well as to the words you say.

  9. Use ‘I’. Stick with statements that include ‘I’ in them such as ‘I think’ or ‘I feel’. Don’t use aggressive language such as ‘you always’ or ‘you never’.

  10. Be patient. Being assertive is a skill that needs practice. Remember that you will sometimes do better at it than at other times, but you can always learn from your mistakes.

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Last updated: May 2012

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