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3 Tips to Be More Assertive at Work

3 Tips to Be More Assertive at Work

By Antonietta Marinelli | May 26, 2022

The way we react, respond and appeal is an intrinsic response to our innate qualities. However, many skills can be taught and developed can help you down the journey of advancement in relationships, friendships, career, and future goals. Assertiveness is a core skill that can be the art of knowing when to be assertive without being aggressive. Something which many may struggle with

What is assertiveness?

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines assertiveness as a skill regularly referred to in social and communications skills training. Being assertive means being able to stand up for your own personal rights through the expression of thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in a direct, honest, and appropriate way. Keeping in mind that whilst being assertive we should always respect the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs of others. It is a core communication skill that when practiced correctly, can lead you down a path of endless opportunities regardless of whether it be through Academia, relationships, career, or future ambitions.

Assertive behavior includes:

  • Being open in expressing wishes, thoughts and feelings and encouraging others to do likewise
  • Listening to the views of others and responding appropriately, whether in agreement with those views or not
  • Maintaining self-control of physical and emotional movements
  • Being able to admit when wrong, and apologize
  • Accepting responsibilities and being able to delegate to others

Assertiveness in the workplace

Assertiveness in the workplace is the key communication skill in which allows us to speak up for ourselves in a way is appropriate and respectful for the work environment. It means to be confident within your communication skills, abilities, and goals without coming across aggressive, or improper.

Being assertive in a work environment can open a world of communication where you can ask for what you need, talk openly about what you want, and identify situations where a person may be taking advantage of you.

Here are 3 ways to be more assertive at work:

1. Boundaries

This is a core component of practicing the art of assertiveness. As humans, we naturally think and feel differently. We all hold different views, approach at different paces, and analyze in a way that serves us best. Learning and respecting your personal boundaries is a key step toward regulating stress and frustration. Think about what you can realistically expect of yourself whilst respecting your limitations. Direct communication is key! Being resentful when not communicating something which may be uncomfortable, or not up to your standard will not only frustrate you physically, but emotionally, which may hinder your work performance.

2. The difference between assertiveness and aggression

This is a line is one many individuals may struggle with. Being assertive is not being ‘pushy, bossy or disrespectful’ to others. However, it can come across like that if not approached in the right manner. Being assertive means that you value your own thoughts, feelings, and voice as well as others. The goal of communicating in an assertive manner is to create the best possible outcome for you in the cooperation of others within your workplace. Addressing issues directly may seem more confrontational, however, allows opportunity for response. Using phrases like “I can understand where you are coming from, but don’t agree with that,” or “I disagree with that” are statements of an assertive and firm nature, which is also appropriate and respectful to the other person. It allows for further conversation and the opportunity to move towards a resolution. The idea of assertiveness is to advance, not shut down a topic of discussion.

3. The power of practice

Speaking about being assertive is another progressive tool to use along your journey. Imagine what it might be like to communicate something difficult to a co-worker or supervisor. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. What do I wish to express?
2. How can I express myself in a way that will help them best understand?
3. What is my goal?
Act out the conversation or play out potential scenarios which you fear the most in your head. Then write them out or confide in someone you feel comfortable with. Saying what you wish to say aloud may help you calm down or relieve anxiety. Consider the things that are often difficult for you to say (for example, saying “no”) and rehearse them for future use.

While the act of assertiveness may seem stressful and sometimes intense, that peak of stress should be compared to the alternative. For many, the alternative to standing up for themselves by being assertive is constant low-level stress. Whether it is in a workplace, social group, or a relationship. If your needs are not taken into consideration, it may create a constant background source of stress and anxiety. Being assertive – standing up for your needs whilst doing so in a way that allows room for other people’s needs – regardless of environment, is one of the most important tools to have in your communications toolbox. (Christian, 2021)


● K., Christian. 2021. The Power of Assertiveness And How It Can Change Your Life. Forbes. [Accessed 15 May 2022]
The Power of Assertiveness And How It Can Change Your Life.

● GoodTherapy. 2020. 6 Tips for Being More Assertive at Work.[Accessed 15 May 2022]
6 Tips for Being More Assertive at Work



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