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Building Your Assertiveness

Copyright Carter McNamara, Authenticity Consulting, LLC

Sections of this Topic Include

What is Assertiveness?
What About Aggressiveness? Are They the Same?
How Assertive Are You?
Strategies to Become More Assertive

What is Assertiveness?

In the context of management, assertiveness is respectfully and tactfully representing yourself -- your opinions and recommendations -- fully to others. Here are some definitions to consider:

Assertiveness is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive. In the field of psychology and psychotherapy, it is a learnable skill and mode of communication.

Dorland's Medical Dictionary defines assertiveness as:

A form of behavior characterized by a confident declaration or affirmation of a statement without need of proof; this affirms the person's rights or point of view without either aggressively threatening the rights of another (assuming a position of dominance) or submissively permitting another to ignore or deny one's rights or point of view.

Many experts would argue that you can't effectively lead others if you can't effectively lead yourself. Assertiveness is a major aspect of self-leadership.

What About Aggressiveness? Are They the Same?

Assertiveness and aggressiveness are sometimes confusing to think about because they can seem to be the same. However, they are different -- actually quite different. Here is a very concise and useful description:

Assertive people state their opinions, while still being respectful of others. Aggressive people attack or ignore others' opinions in favor of their own. ...

Thus, you can be assertive (respectfully asserting your rights) without intending to attack or ignore someone.

How Assertive Are You?

Take this online test to decide how assertive you are.

The Assertiveness Inventory

Do you need to improve your assertiveness? Consider some of the strategies listed below.

Strategies to Become More Assertive

It takes a certain amount of courage to assert yourself -- to be seen, to risk that your opinion may be wrong and that others might respond with strong disagreement or even aggression. Here are some other traits that are useful in building on your skills in assertiveness.

Authenticity -- to respectfully be honest and forthright about yourself, in the moment.

Emotional Intelligence -- to know what you are feeling and to sense how others might react to your assertions.

Motivating and Inspiring Yourself -- to know what will give you the courage to be assertive.

Self -Awareness -- to realize that you are feeling offended, threatened or have a strong wish that is not being honored.

Self-Confidence -- to have the faith in yourself that you can defend yourself -- your pride and your honor.

Vulnerability -- to risk how others might react to your assertions.

Here are some other suggestions:
How to Be More Assertive at Work (Without Being a Jerk)
10 Tips for Being Assertive
A Nice Person’s Guide To Becoming More Assertive
7 Powerful Habits That Make You More Assertive
Assertiveness: A Beginner’s Guide to Standing Up for Yourself

Learn More in the Library's Blogs Related to Assertiveness

In addition to the articles on this current page, see the following blogs which have posts related to Assertiveness. Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of the blog or click on “next” near the bottom of a post in the blog.

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