9 Ways to Be More Assertive

These tips for improving communication skills will help you be more assertive in your work and personal relationships! Here, psychologist Sari Shepphird shares a test for assertiveness and offers nine tips for clear communication.

“Studies show that assertive communication can help build personal confidence, assist with managing stress and anger, and improve coping skills for emotional health and well-being,” says Dr Shepphird, author of 100 Questions & Answers About Anorexia Nervosa. “Assertive communication is the perfect midpoint between aggressiveness and passivity – you avoid needlessly hurting others, yet you are sure to see results.”

To learn more about effective communication, read Messages: The Communication Skills Book.

And, here is Dr Shepphird’s assertiveness training “mini-test”, plus nine tips for improving your communication skills….

A Test for Assertive Communication

Assertiveness involves speaking up for your feelings and needs. Assertiveness also involves improving relationships by learning to be more comfortable expressing your feelings, reactions, wants, and needs to others. Assertive communication can lead you to positive results when making personal and professional requests.

Would you benefit from assertiveness training?

Complete the following statements by answering with:  (A) Always   (B) Frequently    (C) Sometimes    (D) Rarely   (E) Never

1) I stand up for my own needs.

2) I feel I deserve to be heard.

3) I believe I have a right to my own feelings and opinions.

4) I share those feelings and opinions with others.

5) I ask for what I want and need.

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6) I am able to say “no” when I do not want to do something.

7) I am afraid it will seem selfish if I express my feelings or opinions.

If you answered C, D, or E to most of questions 1-6, and/or answered A or B to question 7, read on — because you’ll likely benefit from assertiveness training.

Are you an introvert? To find out, read What an Introvert Really Looks Like – A Test for Introverted Personality Traits.

9 Tips for Improving Your Communication Skills

1. Use assertive language. Use “I” statements so that others know what you are thinking and feeling. For example, instead of saying, “You are ignoring me!” you could say, “I feel hurt when you watch television when I’m trying to speak to you.”

If you want to be assertive while you quit, read How to Quit Your Job When You’re Scared.

2. Be clear in asking for what you want. For example, if you are going to the movies and picking up a friend who has a reputation for being late, you could say, “I really want to get there for the previews, so please be ready to go at 7 o’clock.”

3. Speak up if you are overlooked. For example, if you are waiting in line at the grocery store and someone steps in front of you, it is okay to say, “Excuse me, I’m not sure if you saw me, but I was in line ahead of you.”

4. Do not apologize for your feelings. Do not apologize when you have not done anything wrong.

5. Do not take responsibility for someone else’s behavior.

6. Repeat your request, if you are not satisfied that you have been heard.

7. Express yourself calmly, taking deep breaths if you need to. Avoid insults and accusations. For example, instead of saying, “You are so stubborn, you never listen to me!” you could say, “I feel frustrated when you interrupt me, so please just listen for a moment.”

8. Listen to others’ points of view-but remember that you do not have to agree with their opinion or do what they ask.

9. Offer to compromise, when appropriate. Do you need to be more assertive in your relationship? Read How to Recover After Losing Yourself in a Relationship.

Being assertive takes time and practice. Your skill and ease will increase over time, so be patient with yourself! If you follow the steps above, you are well on your way to becoming more assertive and improving your communication skills.

Do you have any thoughts on these tips for improving communication skills? I welcome your comments below…

And if you’re struggling to communicate effectively at work, read How to Solve Problems at Work.

The mini-test for assertiveness training and tips for improving communication skills is an adapted excerpt from Dr. Shepphird’s new book, 100 Questions and Answers about Anorexia Nervosa. For more information about Dr. Shepphird or the assertiveness training tips you’ve read here, visit DrShepp.com.

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7 thoughts on “9 Ways to Be More Assertive

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comments. I agree that improving communication skills is one way to be more assertive. It can change your whole life.

  • vishali

    defenetely it will help you to improve ourself but it is your own hand to be a good communicator,because most people can understand or follow given tips for few days and some can take steps on it for whole life.so always try to do be a positive yourself and in your communication

  • Laurie PK

    These assertiveness tips for improving communication skills may not work for a 5 year old boy — he’s too young to understand!

    Parenting.com is a great website for info like that. I’m sorry I don’t have tips on kids to give you…it’s not my area of expertise. But, parenting websites would be very helpful.

    Good luck – and I bet it’ll get easier as time goes by! 🙂