Assertiveness Defined

Psychology Today states that assertiveness means, “…there’s no question where you stand, no matter the topic. Cognitively, to be assertive implies a lack of anxious thoughts in light of stress. Behaviorally, assertiveness is all about asking for what you want in a manner that respects others. Assertive people don’t shy away from defending their points of view or goals, or from trying to influence others. In terms of affect, assertiveness means reacting to positive and negative emotions without aggression or resorting to passivity.”

Assertiveness is about finding the balance between passivity and aggression. It also involves asking for what you want in a manner that respects others and being respectful of others’ point of view.

In an article entitled, ‘Assertiveness, Working with People, not Against Them’ from Mind Tools; they concur that assertiveness is finding balance not winning.

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 are assertive, you ask for what you want but you don’t necessarily get it.

Aggressive behavior is based on winning. It requires that you do what is in your own best interest without regard for the rights, needs, feelings or desires of others. When you are aggressive, you take what you want regardless, and you don’t usually ask.

Assertiveness is as much about creating your own boundaries and asserting your wants and needs, as respecting others’ rights to do the same. Cooperatively working together to get to the best outcome for both people, finding common ground a win/win outcome. Developing the skill of assertiveness can be learned, and it will increase your self-confidence. It is at the core of communication skills training.

Another source states that assertiveness is: “the ability to express one’s feelings and assert one’s rights while respecting the feelings and rights of others. Assertive communication is appropriately direct, open and honest, and clarifies one’s needs to the other person.”


Strengthening Virtues

As you can see from my blogs, all of the virtues are interrelated. Most virtues become a part of your character by enhancing different attributes at the same time. If you take the time to learn and develop virtues, then you will be amazed how much it positively affects your life. If you are focusing on embodying virtues, then you are spending less time worrying about things that  … you worry about all the time 🙂

Obviously, devoting energy to developing virtues is more advantageous than laying in bed worrying, fretting or being so overwhelmed you become paralyzed.

Developing Assertiveness

So go slow, pick one or two virtues to work on a week. Here are ways that you can develop assertiveness.

  • When you believe that you are being treated unfairly, you can think, before you speak ( a crucial part of assertiveness), and sit down and talk to the person you believe is treating you unfairly and explain how their behavior is affecting you. Try to have the discussion when you both have time to talk and speak in a calm and positive manner. This will also earn you respect from other people.
  • Believe that you DESERVE to be treated with kindness and respect.
  • Control your emotions – do not let your emotions take over and get the best of you. Communicate with ‘I” statements and be respectful while you express your feelings and/or concerns.
  • Accept feedback and constructive criticism. We can all listen to others’ opinion and take it under advisement. It doesn’t mean you have to accept it, but it is advantageous to think about what was said.
  • Create boundaries and become more aware of when people are crossing your boundaries. Stand up for yourself if anyone crosses boundaries, and you will be less likely to be taken advantage of; therefore, this can also improve the quality of your life.
  • Other people’s opinion are just that, their opinion. It will be helpful if you work on not trying to please everyone. Individuals who try to please everyone, people pleasers, can never win. Pleasing everyone is impossible. Really it is impossible to make people happy all the time. Remember, it is not your responsibility to make another person happy. That is their responsibility. It ‘s hard enough to make ourselves happy, that’s enough responsibility for one person.
  • And last but not least remember the golden rule…Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Assertive Training

Assertive training can:

Assertiveness training can be an effective treatment for certain conditions, such as depression, social anxiety, and problems resulting from unexpressed anger.

Assertiveness training can also be useful for those who wish to improve their interpersonal skills and sense of self-respect.

Assertive training, or developing assertiveness on your own, is necessary for personal and interpersonal skills. It is a vital skill in school, the workplace and anywhere else that you have interpersonal issues. It is important that you learn how to express yourself in direct, honest and appropriate ways. This virtue will increase your self-respect, gain respect from others and will allow you to ensure you are living the best quality life that you can!


For more information about assertiveness, assertiveness training or assertiveness practice can be found on the following websites:


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this article and plan to share it with all of my Facebook friends. I can easily see where there is a “sexual gap” or what I would more aptly describe as a “gender gap.” This is further represented by the fact that, other than myself, all comments so far are from women. This is no doubt a result of our society encouraging males to be assertive, while discouraging females to do so. Yet, I myself, when I was younger, had some difficulty being as assertive as I should have been (many who know me may now wish I had stayed that way!). I think too many people are conditioned to think that if they want to be “nice” or they want others to “like” them, then they must constantly be altruistic and beneficent, effectively shutting out and sacrificing their true wants, needs, or even a part of their “self identity.” This can affect males as well as females. But, everyone should realize the benefits to themselves and others in being more assertive as it is explained in this informative article. Thank you for sharing it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just wrote about my own experiences being mid way through an assertiveness training course and I have to say it’s done a world of good. Learning about our own rights is so crucial. Learning about our own needs and wants is vital of course but of equal importance is like you say, respecting others’ rights to do the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a wonderful post. I always say being humble is assertive , but people don’t get what I mean, some get it and some don’t. I think a lot of people think Humble = door mat. But for me Humble means I choose to engage or let it go and I think that is a form of assertiveness. When I did assertiveness back way back – it is about creating a win /win situation where no one loses or feels a loss of some sort.

    Thanks for sharing such an in depth post on assertiveness a good reminder for me.

    Regards Bella

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I like to remind people that assertiveness is good, so this article was really pertinent. When women are assertive, often people attributes “aggression” instead of standing up for themselves! 🙂 Still a sexual gap in this area. . . ~ Robin

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Absolutely! There is definitely still a sexual gap and most people have no idea what assertiveness really means; therefore, it gets a bad reputation when some people this that aggression is simply being assertive. Thank you for commenting and the compliment. 😊


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