Assertiveness – Written Course

The first thing we need to admit is that being assertive isn’t easy!

For most people, our instinct is to get along with others and be well-liked.

What most of us don’t realise though, is that being assertive doesn’t have to affect your likeability or your ability to get along with people.

To learn how to be more assertive, we need to start by understanding the different types of communication.


Communication Styles

Assertive communication is one of four basic communication styles. Let’s discuss each one individually:


This style is all about going with the flow and agreeing with others.

It seeks to avoid communication conflict at all costs.

Passive communication leads to one-sidedness and should only be used for specific situations when needed.


The opposite of passive communication is aggressive communication.

It involves being in control and aggressively imposing your will when communicating.

As with passive communication, it is also one-sided and shouldn’t be the standard way of communicating for anyone.

Many people mistake this for assertiveness, but the two styles are completely different.


This style seeks to impose one’s will without being direct. It is aggressive in its intent but passive in its approach.

Things like spreading rumours, gossiping and sarcasm all fall under this category of communication.

We can all agree that passive-aggressive communication isn’t healthy for anybody and should be avoided if possible.


The final, and most effective form of communication is assertiveness.

Unlike the aggressive approach, it seeks to be firm and honest without being rude or overpowering.

And unlike the passive approach, it is open, direct and ensures that your opinion is well understood.

Assertive communication means that you are being honest about how you feel without seeking to dominate anybody or disrespect their opinion.

It means that you respect yourself and others by being honest and open.

It isn’t always that easy to be assertive though.


Barriers to Being Assertive

While many of us would like to be more assertive, there are some factors which can make it more difficult than it should be.

Worrying About What Others Think of Us

The most common barrier to being assertive is worrying about other people’s opinion.

Being concerned about how we come across is normal and we all have that instinct in varying degrees.

The common reaction to this is to become a passive communicator.

This leads to inner frustration and anxiety which builds up over time.

It also means that you don’t achieve the goals you have because you’re always catering to others.

The irony is that being assertive isn’t about being aggressive or becoming disliked, it’s all about being honest and straightforward, which are, in fact, very likeable traits.

The more you practise being assertive, the more you’ll find that people respect your honesty and you’ll probably be more popular than someone who is constantly passive.

Confusing Aggression with Assertiveness

Many people avoid being assertive because they think that it’s the same as being aggressive or a bully.

There is a very big difference between aggression and assertiveness, and it’s all about how you communicate your opinion.

If you are willing to listen to others but also be honest about your opinion – that’s being assertive.

If you bulldoze over people, act rudely or disregard any other opinion but your own – that’s being aggressive.

Anxiety Avoidance

We all know how it feels to be anxious when there is a disagreement.

Many people avoid being assertive to avoid this anxiety.

This isn’t an easy one to solve instantly, but it is important to remember that when you are assertive without being rude or disrespectful, there usually isn’t a negative confrontation that can lead to anxiety.

It’s all about your approach.

Also, the more you practise being assertive, the better you become at it and the less anxious you will feel.

Now that we understand what assertiveness is and the barriers to overcome, it’s time to look at practical ways to become assertive.


Tips to Becoming Assertive

Let’s take a look at some methods to begin your journey to assertiveness.

Make Decisions and Own Them

Hesitation and overthinking can often get in the way of being assertive.

A great way to overcome this is to make decisions quickly and decisively, even if they aren’t perfect.

You can start doing this immediately when faced with a small choice such as what movie to watch or where to go and eat

Make a quick choice and stick with it! As you keep doing this, you will gain confidence and become more decisive.

Learn to Say No

A huge part of being assertive is to say no when you aren’t happy with something.

Practise doing it as often as is appropriate and remember to justify your opinion too.

If somebody asks you to do something you’re uncomfortable with, say no and explain why it makes you uncomfortable.

Stop Apologising

Many people feel that they need to apologise for having their own opinion or disagreeing with someone else.

This isn’t true and the only time you should apologise is when you’ve hurt somebody’s feelings or made a real mistake.

Take the word sorry out of your vocabulary unless it’s appropriate, and learn to stop apologising for being yourself.


Thank you for learning about assertiveness with us.

We have learned about assertiveness as a communication style, what the barriers to being assertive are and how to overcome them, as well as practical techniques to begin your journey to assertiveness.

Now you’ll be able to express yourself clearly and honestly without using aggression or feeling uncomfortable about it!

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Assertiveness – Written Course