How to Be More Assertive: A Guide to Standing Up for Yourself

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Donovan - Life Coach

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Do you find yourself agreeing to things you don’t want to do, or letting others walk all over you? Being assertive means standing up for yourself and expressing your opinions and feelings clearly and confidently. However, many people struggle with assertiveness, fearing that they will come across as aggressive or rude. But learning how to be more assertive can help you gain more control over your life and relationships, and lead to greater confidence and self-respect.

In this article, I’ll explore what assertiveness is and why it’s important, as well as practical tips for becoming more assertive in various situations. So, if you’re ready to take charge of your life and stand up for yourself, let’s get started!

What is Assertiveness?

Assertiveness is the ability to express your thoughts, feelings, and needs directly and honestly, while still respecting the rights of others. It’s about communicating your wants and needs clearly and confidently, without being aggressive or passive. Assertive people can set boundaries, say no when they need to, and stand up for themselves without feeling guilty or ashamed.

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Why is Assertiveness Important?

Assertiveness is an important trait to cultivate for several reasons:

  • It helps you communicate effectively: Being assertive allows you to express your thoughts and feelings clearly and directly, which can help you avoid misunderstandings and conflicts.

  • It builds self-confidence: When you’re able to stand up for yourself and communicate your needs effectively, you feel more confident in your abilities and self-worth.

  • It improves relationships: Assertiveness can help you establish healthier and more respectful relationships, as it allows you to set boundaries and communicate your expectations.

  • It reduces stress and anxiety: When you’re able to express yourself honestly and openly, you’re less likely to feel frustrated or overwhelmed, which can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

Tips for Being More Assertive

If you struggle with assertiveness, don’t worry – it’s a skill that can be learned and practised. Here are some practical tips for becoming more assertive in various situations:

1. Speak up for yourself

One of the most important aspects of assertiveness is speaking up for yourself. This means expressing your thoughts and feelings honestly and directly, rather than bottling them up or going along with what others want.

  • Use “I” statements: When expressing your thoughts and feelings, use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. For example, instead of saying “You’re always interrupting me,” say “I feel frustrated when I’m interrupted.”

  • Be clear and specific: When making a request or stating a boundary, be clear and specific about what you want or need. Avoid vague or passive language, such as “I don’t know, maybe…” or “It’s no big deal, but…”

  • Practice in low-risk situations: If you’re new to assertiveness, start by practising in low-risk situations, such as with a friend or family member. This can help you build confidence and get more comfortable with speaking up for yourself.

2. Set boundaries

Setting boundaries is an important part of being assertive. It means knowing your limits and communicating them clearly to others. Here are some tips for setting boundaries:

  • Identify your limits: Take some time to think about what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not. This might include things like how much time you’re willing to spend with certain people, or what kind of behaviour you’re not okay with.

  • Communicate your boundaries: Once you’ve identified your boundaries, communicate them clearly and assertively to others. For example, if you’re not comfortable with someone touching you without permission, say something like, “I’m not okay with being touched without my permission. Please don’t do that again.”

  • Stick to your boundaries: Once you’ve set a boundary, it’s important to stick to it. Don’t let others push you past your limits or make you feel guilty for enforcing your boundaries.

3. Say “no”

Learning to say “no” is an important part of being assertive. It means standing up for yourself and setting boundaries when others ask you to do something you don’t want to do. Here are some tips for saying “no” assertively:

  • Be direct: When saying “no,” be direct and to the point. Avoid making excuses or beating around the bush.

  • Be firm but polite: It’s possible to say “no” assertively while still being polite and respectful. For example, you might say, “I appreciate the offer, but I’m not able to help out this time.”

  • Offer an alternative: If you’re saying “no” to an invitation or request, consider offering an alternative that you’re more comfortable with. For example, “I can’t make it to the party, but I’d love to get together another time.”

4. Practice active listening

Assertiveness isn’t just about speaking up for yourself – it also involves listening actively and respectfully to others. When you’re engaged in a conversation, make sure to:

  • Give the person your full attention: Put away distractions like your phone or computer, and focus on the person speaking.

  • Listen without interrupting: Let the person finish speaking before responding, and avoid interrupting or talking over them.

  • Clarify what you’ve heard: To make sure you’ve understood the other person’s perspective, paraphrase what they’ve said and ask if you’ve got it right.

5. Use confident body language

Your body language can communicate a lot about your level of confidence and assertiveness. Here are some tips for using confident body language:

  • Stand up straight: Good posture communicates confidence and self-assurance.

  • Make eye contact: When speaking to someone, make eye contact to show that you’re engaged and confident.

  • Use open gestures: Avoid crossing your arms or legs, which can communicate defensiveness or disinterest. Instead, use open gestures like uncrossed arms and open palms.

  • Speak clearly and confidently: Speak in a clear, confident tone of voice to convey assertiveness and conviction.


Q: Is it possible to be too assertive? A: Yes, it’s possible to come across as aggressive or rude if you’re overly assertive. However, this is generally less of a problem than being too passive, as assertive behaviour is often more effective and respected than passive or aggressive behaviour.

Q: Will people dislike me if I’m assertive? A: While some people may be taken aback or uncomfortable with assertive behaviour, it’s generally respected and appreciated in most situations. By setting boundaries and expressing yourself clearly and confidently, you’re more likely to gain respect and admiration than lose it.

Q: What if I still struggle with assertiveness after practising these tips? A: Learning to be more assertive can take time and practice. If you still find yourself struggling, consider seeking out a therapist or counsellor who can help you work through any underlying issues or fears that may be holding you back.


Learning how to be more assertive is a valuable skill that can help you gain more control over your life, improve your relationships, and boost your self-esteem. By setting boundaries, saying “no,” practising active listening, and using confident body language, you can learn to assert yourself effectively and respectfully.

Remember, being assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive or rude. It simply means expressing yourself in a clear, direct, and confident way. By learning to be more assertive, you can build stronger, more fulfilling relationships, and live a more empowered and fulfilling life.

So if you’re ready to take control of your life and communicate your needs and desires more effectively, start practising these tips today. With time and effort, you can become a more assertive, confident, and empowered person.

How to be More Assertive: Takeaways

  • Being assertive means expressing yourself in a clear, direct, and confident way.

  • To be more assertive, you can set boundaries, say “no,” practice active listening, and use confident body language.

  • Remember that being assertive is not the same as being aggressive or rude.

  • If you’re struggling with assertiveness, consider seeking out a therapist or counsellor who can help you work through any underlying issues or fears.

  • By learning to be more assertive, you can build stronger, more fulfilling relationships, and live a more empowered and fulfilling life.

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