What is assertiveness?

Assertiveness is an interpersonal style underpinned by confidence and self awareness. It’s also an integral part of managing relationships, conflicts and competing priorities in the workplace.

Rather than a trait that people either have or don’t have, assertiveness is a skill that can be learnt. It involves verbal, para-verbal and non-verbal components.

Why is it so important?

A lack of assertiveness may be one reason that your feelings or needs are not acknowledged or met by others.

Developing skills in assertiveness can also improve communication with colleagues, managers, clients and other external stakeholders.

What are some examples of assertive behaviour?

What prevents us from being assertive?

Anxiety and stress

It may be that we know how to be assertive but we get so anxious that we find we can’t carry out the behaviour.

Self-defeating beliefs

We might have unrealistic beliefs and negative self-statements about being assertive, our ability to be assertive, or the things that might happen if we are assertive.

E.g. “It’s uncaring, rude or selfish to say what you want”; “If I assert myself I’ll upset the other person and ruin our relationship.”

Perceived skills deficit

We may feel we don’t have the verbal and nonverbal skills to communicate in an assertive manner, resulting in avoidance.

Tools for assertiveness

There are certainly learnable tools that can facilitate assertiveness. They fall into three broad categories: emotional and social intelligence, assertive body language and verbal skills.

Emotional and social intelligence
Assertive body language
Verbal skills

If you’d like to brush up on assertiveness, Caraniche offers a range of training courses to support the professional development of employees and managers, including Assertiveness and Communications Skills.

Category: Employees, Leaders

More resources for you

In Mental health, Wellbeing

Understanding Anxiety

Although anxiety is different for everyone, there are common emotional, cognitive, behavioural and physiological features that characterise anxiety.

Read more
In Mental health, Wellbeing

Managing stress at home

After a stressful day or event, taking time to wind down and practice self-care or stress management strategies is essential to help bring yourself back into balance.

Read more
In Employees, Mental health, Wellbeing

Managing stress in the workplace

Stress is our body’s natural way of responding to the demands of life and is something we all experience.

Read more