How To Be Assertive At Work: The Key To Success And Strong Relationships

Being assertive at work means expressing your thoughts, feelings, and needs in an open, honest, and respectful manner. It does not mean being aggressive or demanding.

Assertiveness is an important skill for career success, improving relationships, and reducing stress.

We believe that it is also essential to understand the differences between assertive versus aggressive communication.

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What is Assertiveness?

Assertiveness is the ability to clearly state your wants and needs while respecting others. It involves direct, open, and honest communication styles delivered in a calm, thoughtful manner.

Key features of assertive behavior:

  • Expressing your views, needs, and feelings clearly and directly
  • Standing up for your rights while respecting others
  • Finding a balance between passive and aggressive behavior

Benefits of being assertive:

  • Improves self-esteem and confidence
  • Earns respect from colleagues
  • Allows you to create boundaries and say no when needed
  • Reduces stress and anxiety at work
  • Strengthens relationships and communication
  • Helps achieve goals and get needs met

Why Be Assertive at Work?

Being assertive at work is important for several reasons:

  • Shows confidence and self-respect – Assertiveness demonstrates you value yourself and your views. This earns you respect from colleagues.
  • Improves communication – Direct, honest expression makes your needs clear, improving understanding.
  • Increases influence – Assertive people gain more influence and responsibility at work. Speaking up gets you heard.
  • Avoids conflict – Staying silent can allow problems to fester. Assertiveness resolves issues early before they escalate.
  • Reduces stress – Unexpressed feelings and needs can cause anxiety. Assertiveness helps maintain emotional balance.

5 Tips for Being Assertive at Work

Here are 5 tips to help you be appropriately assertive in workplace situations:

  • Be direct – State your needs and opinions clearly, using “I” statements, e.g. “I think we should consider a different approach.”
  • Be respectful – Express your views while being considerate of others. Listen actively and be open-minded.
  • Stay calm – Speak slowly, keep an even tone, and maintain eye contact. Don’t get defensive or aggressive.
  • Be confident – Speak up for yourself based on your rights while having confidence in your views.
  • Be flexible – Be willing to compromise when needed. Consider others’ perspectives and find mutually beneficial solutions.

How to Be Assertive: 5 Key Steps

Follow these steps to express yourself assertively:

1. Assess the situation – Consider what you want to express and why. Get clear on your key objectives.

2. Plan your response – Decide what points you want to communicate and how to say them directly yet respectfully.

3. Make clear “I” statements – Use “I feel…” or “I believe…” to own your views and avoid blaming language.

4. Communicate confidently – Make eye contact, speak slowly and clearly, listen actively, and stay calm.

5. Be willing to compromise – Consider perspectives of others and offer solutions that meet mutual needs.

How assertive are you?


Being assertive at work requires clearly and respectfully expressing your needs and views. It leads to improved communication, stronger relationships, reduced stress, and increased influence.

With practice and preparation, anyone can learn to be appropriately assertive. Remember to always be aware of aggressive versus assertive behavior.

The keys are staying calm, using “I” statements, finding compromises, and maintaining confidence and respect.

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