What is Assertiveness?

Communication styles exist on a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum lies passive communication. When communicating passively, individuals might give into others easily, struggle to express their thoughts, speak little in conversations, excessively praise others, and put themselves down. These individuals might show non-verbal signs of passivity by avoiding eye contact, looking down, and holding their arms while hunching. Their voices might sound softer. They may struggle to get their needs met to avoid conflict and please others. Aggressive communication lives on the opposite side of the spectrum. Those who communicate aggressively might appear superior, sarcastic, critical of others, and condescending. They interrupt others and they act as though their needs are more important than the needs of others. Aggressive communication may also escalate into threatening words and behaviors. Individuals with an aggressive demeanor might appear dominant through excessive eye contact, pushing their shoulders out, putting their hands on their hips, keeping their feet apart, pointing fingers, or clenching their fists. Their voices might sound louder and angrier. These individuals might get their immediate needs met, but they also tend to feel angry and resentful as they have conflict with others.

Healthy communication stems from the middle of this spectrum, where assertiveness lies. Assertive communication allows individuals to express their needs while being direct, honest, and respectful. When speaking assertively, messages and tone are firm and clear, while also polite. The way one communicates shows that both people in the conversation are equal and deserving of respect. An assertive demeanor would be relaxed, open, and welcoming. This can be achieved by making appropriate eye contact and friendly hand gestures.

Assertiveness Activities to Practice

Assertiveness Self-Assessment

"I" Statements

Knowing When to Speak Up

Finding Your Assertiveness Balance

How To Get What You Deserve In Life

Replace Unhelpful Thoughts

Are You Up For the Challenge?

We challenge you to practice assertiveness. Try at least one of the exercises above the next time you are in a difficult social interaction. Did you get your needs met? Were you able to express yourself and maintain your relationship at the same time?