Assertiveness is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive. It is a learnable skill and mode of communication. It is a form of behavior characterized by a confident assertion 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. Be confident, self-assured and stand up for your right to be yourself. The ability to make clear decisions, to approach your life with confidence and self-assurance, and to believe in yourself are all crucial to success. And in both work and life, assertiveness holds the key to your self-respect and self-esteem. This remarkable guide is packed with real-life examples, motivating scenarios, quick wins and loads of friendly advice that will show you how to make your voice heard, take control of your destiny, feel empowered and motivated and begin to live the life you want, without apology.

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Learn powerful, life-changing techniques to make sure your opinions are always respected; deal confidently and effectively with other people, their assumptions and their demands. Learn to be decisive, confident and self assured. Understand that, whilst you have rights, so do those around you. Learn to say what you mean, mean what you say and know that you really do have the right to say ‘no’. How To Be Assertive is a fun read and a great friend to have around. It’s written by two experienced, down-to-earth and real-world experts and with just one read it really could change your life forever.

Four Steps to Building Assertiveness

There are four basic steps that can help you become more assertive in your every day interactions with others.

1. Realize where changes are needed and believe in your rights.

Many people recognize they are being taken advantage of and/or have difficulty saying “no.” Others do not see themselves as unassertive but do feel depressed or unfulfilled, have lots of physical ailments, have complaints about work but assume the boss or teacher has the right to demand whatever he/she wants, etc. Nothing will change until the victim recognizes his/her rights are being denied and he/she decides to correct the situation. Keeping a diary may help you assess how intimidated, compliant, passive or timid you are or how demanding, whiny, bitchy or aggressive others are.

2. Figure out appropriate ways of asserting yourself in each specific situation that concerns you.

There are many ways to devise effective, tactful, fair assertive responses. Watch a good model. Discuss the problem situation with a friend, a parent, a supervisor, a counselor or other person. Carefully note how others respond to situations similar to yours and consider if they are being unassertive, assertive or aggressive. Read some of the books listed at the end of this method. Most assertiveness trainers recommend that an effective assertive response contain several parts:

  • Describe (to the other person involved) the troublesome situation as you see it. Be very specific about time and actions, don’t make general accusations like “you’re always hostile… upset… busy.” Be objective; don’t suggest the other person is a total jerk. Focus on his/her behavior, not on his/her apparent motives.
  • Describe your feelings, using an “I” statement which shows you take responsibility for your feelings. Be firm and strong, look at them, be sure of yourself, don’t get emotional. Focus on positive feelings related to your goals if you can, not on your resentment of the other person. Sometimes it is helpful to explain why you feel as you do, so your statement becomes “I feel ______ because ______.”
  • Describe the changes you’d like made; be specific about what action should stop and what should start. Be sure the requested changes are reasonable, consider the other person’s needs too, and be willing to make changes yourself in return. In some cases, you may already have explicit consequences in mind if the other person makes the desired changes and if he/she doesn’t. If so, these should be clearly described too. Don’t make dire threats, if you can’t or won’t carry out them out.

3. Practice giving assertive responses.

Using the responses you have just developed, role-play the problem situations with a friend or, if that isn’t possible, simply imagine interacting assertively. Start with real life but easy to handle situations and work up to more challenging ones expected in the future.

You will quickly discover, if your friend plays the role realistically, that you need to do more than simply rehearse the assertiveness responses. You will realize that no matter how calm and tactful you are, it will still sometimes come out smelling like a personal assault to the other person.

Another technique to try when confronting especially difficult situations or people is called the broken record. You calmly and firmly repeat a short, clear statement over and over until the other person gets the message. For example, “I want you to be home by midnight,” “I don’t like the product and I want my money back,” “No, I don’t want to go drinking, I want to study.”

Repeat the same statement in exactly the same way until the other person “gets off your back,” regardless of the excuses, diversions, or arguments given by the other person.

4. Try being assertive in real life situations.

Start with the easier, less stressful situations. Build some confidence. Make adjustments in your approach as needed.

Look for or devise ways of sharpening your assertiveness skills. Examples: Ask a friend to lend you a piece of clothing, a record album or a book. Ask a stranger for directions, change for a dollar, or a pen or pencil. Ask a store manager to reduce the price of a soiled or slightly damaged article, to demonstrate a product, or exchange a purchase. Ask an instructor to help you understand a point, find extra reading, or go over items you missed on an exam. Practice speaking and making small talk, give compliments to friends and strangers, call up a city official when you see something unreasonable or inefficient, praise others when they have done well, tell friends or co-workers experiences you have had, and on and on. Keep a diary of your interactions.