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An Article About Assertiveness

How to Be Assertive Without Rubbing People The Wrong Way


by Kevin Watson

Assertiveness is an important skill for effective communication as an adult. Assertiveness allows you to advocate for yourself and your needs in a healthy way. Some people interpret assertiveness as hostility or rudeness. Many factors can go into how assertiveness is interpreted or received. Let’s take a look at ways to advocate for yourself in an effective manner.

What Is Assertiveness?

Assertiveness is an interpersonal skill. It demonstrates your confidence and allows you to advocate for your needs, desires and boundaries while being respectful towards others. You are taking care of yourself by looking out for yourself.

Steps To Being Assertive 

  • ask for what you want or need respectfully
  • it is ok to say “NO”
  • speak your mind 
  • remember that you are not responsible for the other person’s response
  • you have a right to your feelings 
  • use “I” statements when speaking
  • don’t apologise for your feelings or needs

Delivery Matters

Using “I” statements to convey your needs helps prevent the person you are speaking to understand that you are stating your needs, and not placing blame. At times people may take assertiveness as rudeness when it is not. This is not your responsibility. Stay calm, keep it positive and constructive, but speak your needs.

The duty we owe ourselves is greater than that we owe others.

Louisa May Alcott

Practice Practice

Assertiveness comes easy for some and is an anxiety-inducing challenge for others. The thing is, the more you do it the easier it gets. If being assertive does not come naturally for you start small. Practice stating your opinions in lower risk situations first.

Gain confidence as you go. Don’t apologise for stating your wants and needs. Know your boundaries and beliefs on bigger issues and be ready to peacefully and proactively advocate for your needs. 

What Are The Dont’s 

  • placing blame 
  • sharing your wants and needs in a confrontational or aggressive manner
  • yelling or shouting 
  • being unwilling to hear the other person out

Do your best to stay calm and be diplomatic. Also, understand that you can’t force someone to respect your assertive requests and behaviour. You know what is best for you and only you can decide what to do if your requests are not honoured. Stay true to your integrity and values.



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About the Author

Kevin Watson

Kevin is a highly experienced Leadership Coach and acts as Consultant to several boards of global organisations, as well as local business owners. He is passionate about making a difference by enabling and encouraging leaders who want to create and sustain meaningful change in themselves and the organisation.

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