Being assertive

Being assertive

Our interaction with others can be grouped into three types; passive, aggressive and assertive. Of these, assertiveness is considered to be a beneficial behaviour in which one reacts to positive and negative things in a balanced way.

Being assertive: What are the different styles of assertiveness?

Passive Style: Passive people feel unimportant about themselves. Consistent passive behaviour ends up in low self esteem. They develop negative feelings about others; feel exploited, unworthy and as a result are less likely to achieve their goals.

Aggressive Style: Aggressive people feel very important about themselves and hold others in low esteem. Most of their interactions are explosive and confrontational. Though aggression could help achieve goals in the short run, it would not last, as alienation from people would hinder achieving goals. Consistent aggression would bring about stress, guilt and a bad felling about oneself.

Assertive Style: Assertiveness is letting others know your opinion, needs and feelings and being aware of one’s rights. It is an attitude that you are worth what others are worth and a set of skill in implementing the attitude.

Acting assertively is to value people even if you don’t agree with them. Assertiveness brings about interactions that are expressive and collaborative, resulting in more self confidence and satisfaction.

Being assertive: How to become Assertive

  • Start with easy situations and people
  • Try one at a time
  • Reappraise negative thoughts stopping you
  • Bury the judge within you
  • Avoid put downs and threats
  • Know your feelings, wants and needs in a situation and express them clearly
  • Assess a situation first and express accordingly
  • Maintain an assertive posture and a clear voice


  • Repeat your stand with variations
  • Get back to topic in discussions
  • Defuse tense situations
  • Cloud your comments
  • Seek clarification, validate other’s feelings and disclose your own

Situation specifics:

Respond to criticism by assertively agreeing, clouding comments or apologising

Be specific in complaining without blaming

Say “No” with reasoning, thanking and acknowledging the person’s needs.


There is no one right way to be assertive; Practice helps.


article summary of : Gagnon, D. Psychologist at