Assertiveness is a state of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive and controlling or manipulating others. It is a skill and a mode of communication that can be learned through assertiveness training. It is a tool to equalizing relationships, avoiding putting someone else’s feeling down. In 1961 Assertiveness Training was introduced by Andrew Salter.  Further work was done by a famous psychiatrist Joseph Wolpe who popularized the assertiveness training.  Joseph Wolpe believed that a person could not be both assertive and anxious at the same time, if one chooses to being assertive would not become anxious. Hence he concluded that being assertive is actually the inhibition of anxiety. Wolpe’s goals of assertiveness training include the following:

  • Increased awareness of personal rights
  • Recognizing and understanding differences between non-assertiveness and assertiveness
  • Recognizing and understanding differences between passive–aggressiveness and aggressiveness
  • Learning verbal and non-verbal assertiveness skills.

sagirMuhammad Saghir has done Msc in applied psychology. Currently he is doing M.phil in clinical psychology from international Islamic University Islamabad. He has keen interest in research hence he has conducted a research on depression and subsyndromal depression.

Editor: Talal Zubair

Anger, confusion and helplessness are the feelings that come from failure to communicate assertively, these feelings are basically alternatives to assertiveness. Moreover, powerlessness and manipulation are also the alternative feelings that come from in the absence of assertiveness. Naturally, we have some survival tactics to communicate our feelings so that one may know our feelings. We use these survival tactics, swallowing and blasting to communicate our feelings. Hence swallowing our anger and blasting at others are tools to manifest our feelings. For instance, in swallowing we involve in pouting to let others know our feelings that something is not being communicated well. Later this involves blasting the offender in an effort to punish them for some perceived ill. So these styles aren’t healthy because in either option there isn’t equality. So by promoting equality and affirming self worth of both people involved in any situation, that would contribute in resolving conflict.


Here I would like to mention some barriers of assertive self-expression.

  • Firstly, some people have belief to not have a right to be assertive. They negatively perceive their selves. They have negative attitude to becoming assertive. Our beliefs are linked with our attitudes that influence our behaviors and subsequent feedback increases or decreases the occurrence of a behavior.
  • Secondly, some are more anxious and fearful about the consequences. They fear that if they become assertive that would result in loosing relationships. Such as assertively saying no maybe harmful. Because they also having the fear of rejection.
  • Finally some people lack communication skills or effective self-expression. So they can’t easily communicate or express their feelings and also they lack confidence.