Assertiveness is an important skill to have in the workplace. It allows you to communicate your needs and wants clearly and effectively, while also respecting the rights of others. Being assertive can help you to build better relationships with your colleagues and managers, and to achieve your goals more efficiently.


To understand assertiveness, we must appreciate that it falls on a scale with two other styles of communication:

This means that people can find it challenging to be assertive as they are anxious about coming across as too aggressive.


1. Communicate clearly and directly

One of the keys to assertiveness is being clear and direct in your communication. This means avoiding vague language, and being specific about what you want or need. For example, instead of saying “I’m not sure if I am comfortable with this approach,” try saying “I would feel better if we did [X].”

2. Speak up for yourself

This means expressing your opinions, even if they differ from those of others. For example, if you disagree with a proposal that is being discussed in a meeting, express your concerns and suggest alternative solutions. Although this can be worrying for people, they often feel a greater sense of long term peace at being able to be their authentic selves.

3. Set boundaries

Being assertive also means being able to set boundaries and to say “no” when necessary. This means being able to identify what is important to you and what you are willing to compromise on. For example, if you are asked to work on a project that you don’t have the time or resources for, it’s okay to say no and to suggest alternative ways of achieving the same goal. Remember that saying no to others is all about you saying yes to your own needs and values.

4. Be open to feedback

Avoid slipping from assertiveness into aggression by being open to feedback and being willing to listen to the perspectives of others. This allows you understand other peoples needs, improve your ideas and better collaborate with others. For example, if a colleague shares feedback on a project you are working on, listen to their ideas and consider how you can work together to find the best possible way forward.

5. Stand up for others

Finally, being assertive also means being willing to stand up for others. This means being an advocate for your colleagues and for the team as a whole. This builds a sense of trust and comradery in the workplace. For example, if you notice that a team member is being unfairly treated, or does not get the chance to share their voice, speak up and advocate for them or create the space where they can advocate for themselves. Very giving people may find it easier to be assertive on behalf of others rather than being assertive for themselves.


In conclusion, assertiveness is a key skill to have in the workplace. By communicating clearly and directly, speaking up for yourself, setting boundaries, being open to feedback, and standing up for others, you can build better relationships with your colleagues and managers and achieve your goals more efficiently. Remember, being assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive or being pushy, it means standing up for yourself and others in a respectful way.

The Self Leadership Initiative provides coaching and training workshops to help you build your confidence and communicate assertively.  Book a free consultation here.