How to Stand Up for Yourself – 6 Tips for Speaking Up

If you have trouble standing up for yourself, you’re not alone! These tips will make speaking up at work and home easier. Yes, you can say no to unreasonable requests from friends, relatives and colleagues.

“Too many of us fail to fulfill our needs because we say no rather than yes, or perhaps later in life, yes when we should say no.” ~ William Glasser, psychiatrist.

Do you have trouble speaking up? Do you keep your views to yourself because it’s easier than risking a fight? You may want to read When I Say No, I Feel Guilty – it’s a practical guide to being more assertive with others.

It can be difficult to say no, but an honest expression of your needs and views will not only improve the way others see and treat you, it can change the way you feel about yourself.

Understand the impact of not standing up for yourself

  • Be aware that saying ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no’ can lead to stress, anger and resentment
  • Speaking up and making your needs heard will allow others to get to know the  real you

Clarify your needs and wants – to yourself, first

  • Complete the following sentence(s):
  1. I need _________.
  2. I want _________.
  • don’t make decisions until you know what you want

Create an assertiveness script for speaking up

  • Think about what you want to say and why you want to say no, in advance
  • Include phrases such as: I disagree, I have another view on that, I need your help right now, I feel uncomfortable about that

Start small – it takes time to learn how to stand up for yourself

  • Practice saying ‘no’ in a situation that is not critical (for example, saying no to  a small request from an acquaintance)
  • Plan to take one small step each day toward speaking up

Practice standing up for yourself with a trusted friend

  • Explain what you are trying to achieve
  • Ask for support and feedback
  • Then, move on to speaking up for yourself in a big way – such as asking for a raise at work

Reward yourself for saying “no”

  • Give yourself credit for small accomplishments such as saying no to a dinner invitation from a close friend when you are tired
  • Be proud of yourself for making progress!

Like any other habit, learning to say ‘no’ to unreasonable requests isn’t easy and takes time, effort and practice. But the life-affirming changes are definitely well worth the effort.

For more tips for standing up for yourself, read How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty – People Pleasers.

If you have any thoughts on standing up and speaking up, please comment below.

Written by Merle Rosenstein, a Toronto-based food and travel writer, blogger and staff writer for Canadian Traveller Magazine. Visit her at


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