How to be More Assertive

After running many courses that include Assertiveness Skills, it surprising how my people mis-define what Assertiveness really is.

I hear responses such as demanding, raising your voice, being pushy, getting what you want…you get the picture. Behaviours more associated with being aggressive

I always remember being told that Assertiveness is ‘The Art of Confident Communication’ . Something that has stuck with me since I was told that. This for me in a nut shell defines exactly what assertiveness is.

Unlike the behaviours above that are very much gut based or instinctive reactions, assertiveness is very much a controlled reaction where by you understand the situation first, where possible ask questions to gather the facts and respond confidently based on what you find out – no matter how you are feeling inside.

That last point clearly reminds me of Betaris Box. A simple but amazing piece of work which I’ll write about soon, and use a real live and very personal example of how I’ve used it.

I recently watched a clip of Captain Chesley Sullenberger (the guy who landed the aeroplane on the Hudson River) and he talks about the physiological reaction he had. His words ‘The physiological reaction I had to this was strong, and I had to force myself to use my training and force calm on the situation’. This to me defines what an assertive person will clearly have the ability to do. No matter what you think about a situation or another person’s behaviour, the reaction you demonstrate should be one of complete control.

Check out the interview here. It’s very inspiring and great for Leadership Characteristics.

So, being Assertive is about getting what you want, but it’s doing it in such a way that doesn’t step on the other persons dignity and integrity. It’s about getting what you want, but also ensuring the other person gets what they need to.

Here are so top tips for being Assertive:

  • Understand the other persons behaviour. Remember, we all have beliefs and values that affect the behaviour we demonstrate, and our perception of the person’s behaviour will be very different to what they think it is
  • Where possible, ask questions to understand the other persons position. Try not to jump to conclusions without knowing the facts
  • If you need to, explain to the other person how you feel. Ensure you provide specific facts and traits that they are demonstrating and how they make you feel
  • Ensure you let them know what they should do differently
  • Be clear about your position. Take a second to really think about what you want to say. ‘Engage you brain’, be aware of your body language and explain your position
  • Be careful to to let your emotions to challenge drive an uncontrolled response. Always take that second to re-engage and think about what you want to say
  • Try not to let your body language show you are uncomfortable. Remember, confidence is the key.

I hope you found the above useful. I’ll add more posts later around Betaris Box and other bits and pieces.


Managing Director

Revolution Learning and Development Ltd

We run a one day Assertiveness Skills Programme in Liverpool, Newcastle, Sunderland, Glasgow, Coventry and Middlesex. You can learn how to be more assertive, control your reactions and become much more confident fro only £249 ex VAT per person. We can also run this specifically for your organisation.

Visit our Open Course details page here and search Assertiveness Skills