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There are too many instances whereby we neglected ourselves just to please the people around us to avoid conflicts. While it is not a bad thing, you may have realized that over the time, you lose your own voice of thinking, opinion and need. You are stuck in the paradigm of going with the flow or be a people pleaser. And you know that it needs to be change.

No company will value an employee who has no view or who is unable to communicate effectively. is the ability to ask for what you want, to say “no” to protect your time and resources, and to deliver messages that might make others uncomfortable but nevertheless need to be said. And there is a fine line between being assertive and being aggressive.

Assertive vs Aggressive

Assertiveness is based on balance. It requires being forthright about your wants and needs, while still considering the rights, needs and wants of others. When you’re assertive, you are self-assured and draw power from this to get your point across firmly, fairly and with empathy.

Aggressive behavior is based on winning. You do what is in your own best interest without regard for the rights, needs, feelings, or desires of other people. When you’re aggressive, the power you use is selfish. You may come across as pushy or even bullying. You take what you want, often without asking.

So, those who can assert themselves communicate more confidently and clearly, enjoy more fulfilling relationships with others, and are more effective at work. Here are the 5 simple tips to help you learn to be more assertive:

Tip 1: Value Yourself and Your Rights

To be more assertive, you need to gain a good understanding of yourself, as well as a strong belief in your inherent value and your value to your organization and team.

This self-belief is the basis of self-confidence and assertive behavior. It will help you to recognize that you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, give you the confidence to stick up for your rights and protect your boundaries, and to remain true to yourself, your wants and your needs

Tip 2: Voice Your Needs and Wants Confidently and Positively

If you’re going to perform to your full potential, then you need to make sure that your priorities – your needs and wants – are met.

Don’t wait for someone else to recognize what you need. You might wait forever! Take the initiative and start to identify the things that you want now. Then, set goals so that you can achieve them. (Related: 5 Ways to Adopt Proactive Mindset while Working From Home)

Once you’ve done this, you can tell your boss or your colleague exactly what it is that you need from them to help you to achieve these goals in a clear and confident way. And don’t forget to stick to your guns. Even if what you want isn’t possible right now, ask (politely, constructively and sensitively) whether you can revisit your request in six months time.

Find ways to make requests that avoid sacrificing others’ needs while standing up for yourself. Remember, you want people to help you, and asking for things in an overly aggressive or pushy way is likely to put them off doing this and may even damage your relationship.

Tip 3: Acknowledge That You Can’t Control Other People’s Behavior

Don’t make the mistake of accepting responsibility for how people react to your assertiveness. If they, for example, act angry or resentful toward you, try to avoid reacting to them in the same way. (Related: Understand the Psychology Behind Defusing and Resolving Workplace Anger)

Remember that you can only control yourself and your own behavior, so do your best to stay calm and measured if things get tense. As long as you are being respectful and not violating someone else’s needs, then you have the right to say or do what you want.

Tip 4: Be Open to Criticism and Compliments

Accept both positive and negative feedback graciously, humbly and positively.

If you don’t agree with criticism that you receive then you need to be prepared to say so, but without getting defensive or angry. The Feedback Matrix is a great tool that can help you to see past your emotional reactions to feedback, and instead use it to achieve significant, positive change. (Related: Delivering Constructive Feedback is Important. (You Know It!))

Tip 5: Learn to Say “No”

Saying “No” is hard to do, especially when you’re not used to doing it, but it’s vital if you want to become more assertive.

Knowing your own limits  and how much work you are able to take on will help you to manage your tasks more effectively, and to pinpoint any areas of your job that make you feel as though you’re being taken advantage of.

Remember that you can’t possibly do everything or please everyone, so it’s important that you protect your time and your workload by saying “no” when necessary. When you do have to say “no”, try to find a win-win solution that works for everyone. (Related: GENIE© Go-giver Negotiation Skills for an All-Win Result)


Being assertive means finding the right balance between passivity (not assertive enough) and aggression (angry or hostile behavior). It means having a strong sense of yourself and your value, and acknowledging that you deserve to get what you want. And it means standing up for yourself even in the most difficult situations.

You can learn to be more assertive over time by identifying your needs and wants, expressing them in a positive way, and learning to say “no” when you need to.

It likely won’t happen overnight but, by practicing it regularly, you will slowly build up the confidence and self-belief that you need to become assertive. You’ll also likely find that you become more productive, efficient and respected, too.


How to be Assertive

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