BlogCommunication SkillsThe Art of Assertive Communication: How to Say What You Mean

The Art of Assertive Communication: How to Say What You Mean

Assertive communication is the ability to express your thoughts, feelings, and desires without violating the rights of others. It’s about being transparent, direct, and honest with yourself and others while still respecting their boundaries. Assertiveness starts with understanding what you need in a given moment. If you feel like something isn’t right for you, it’s important to say no or set limits on how someone can interact with you. It would help if you were also firm when communicating essential needs but don’t require an immediate response from another person (like requesting they stop interrupting). The key is balance! Use assertive communication when appropriate but also take care not to go overboard by becoming aggressive or passive-aggressive!

What Is Assertive Communication?

Assertiveness in communication is the ability to express both positive and negative sentiments openly, honestly, and directly. It acknowledges our rights while also respecting the rights of others. It allows us to accept responsibility for ourselves and our behaviours without passing judgment or assigning blame. And it enables us to work through conflict constructively by confronting and finding a mutually beneficial solution for all parties.

Assertive vs. passive communication

If you have a passive communication style, people may perceive you as withdrawn or carefree. You may say things like, “I’ll go with whatever the group decides.” You’re averse to fighting. Why is this an issue? Because by being too quiet, you are implying that your thoughts and feelings aren’t as essential as those of other people. In doing so, you can miss the sight of your own needs and neglect yourself.

On the other hand, if you’re too aggressive in asserting yourself, people may see you as self-centered or pushy. For example, you might say things like, “I want to go out tonight!” Why is this problematic? Because by putting all of your energy into what you want, you are shortchanging the needs of others. In doing so, you can lose sight of their feelings and neglect essential relationships.

Assertive vs. aggressive communication

Consider the other side of the coin. If your style is an aggressive response, you may come across as a bully who disregards the feelings and wishes of others. You could appear smug or superior. Highly active people can humiliate and intimidate others while also being physically intimidating. You might believe that being aggressive gets you what you want, but there’s a high price to pay because you stifle any chance of a healthy relationship.

On the other hand, people with an assertive communication style are direct and open about their thoughts and feelings while still respecting others. They don’t let themselves be walked over or pushed around, but neither do they go out of their way to hurt anyone else’s feelings by being excessively blunt. Why is this a good thing? Because there’s a high degree of respect in both directions and healthy communication flows freely, which creates the possibility for solid relationships to develop over time.

Assertive vs. passive-aggressive communication

Consider the following examples of passive-aggressive behavior. You may say yes when you genuinely want to say no if you communicate in a passive-aggressive way. For example, you might be sarcastic or gossip about others behind their backs. Rather than addressing an issue head-on, you may indirectly express your rage and sentiments by performing tasks or having a negative attitude. You might even forget to show up for a meeting or not keep your promises.

Why does this matter? Because you risk alienating yourself from others, who may see you as an unreliable, unpleasant person. If they aren’t sure what’s going on with you, it can be challenging to form a strong bond that will endure over time. In short, you are not direct enough about how you feel, which is a missed opportunity to build intimacy with those around you.

How to achieve assertive behavior

You don’t need people’s permission or approval before communicating what you feel, think, and want. Likewise, you do not need anyone else to validate your feelings. It is up to you to take responsibility for getting your needs met in appropriate ways without manipulating others by using indirect languages like hints, cues, and questions. Here are some tips for communicating more clearly and directly.

Do not use “you” statements, which are accusatory or aggressive in nature. For example, saying something like “You perpetually leave your dirty dishes everywhere” is much less effective than using a first-person statement such as “I feel frustrated when you don’t put away your dishes.”

Use “I statements, which are appropriate when you want to express your feelings or opinions concisely and directly without putting someone else on the defensive. For example, saying something like “I feel abandoned when you don’t answer my messages” is much better than using a second-person statement such as “You always ignore me.”

Try to remain calm in emotionally charged situations because you are more likely to say something regrettable if your emotions get the better of you. This can be achieved by taking a few deep breaths before speaking or writing when nothing must be lost in translation due to being said too quickly, impulsively, or sarcastically.

Be consistent in everything that you say and do. In other words, if you’re going to tell a co-worker or family member how much it bothered you when they failed to meet a deadline, then follow through by being completely on top of your work from now on. There’s no room for excuses because inconsistency will only serve as a reminder that you’re not a very good communicator.

What does this all mean? First, it means that the word “no” is neither rude nor aggressive when used appropriately and consistently, allowing for open communication with those around us without creating unnecessary drama or confrontations. There’s no need to use negativity as a way to avoid conflict at all costs.

Remember that you are accountable for your feelings and behavior, which means no one is responsible for them besides yourself. You can’t expect others to understand your mind or know what’s wrong if you don’t tell them directly in a powerful way. If someone makes a mistake, it doesn’t automatically mean that they are a terrible person or you don’t like them. It’s better to address issues head-on so no one feels the need to walk on eggshells around you out of fear or uncertainty about what might be wrong.

What are the 3 C’s of assertive communication skills?

Confidence: You believe in your ability to resolve a problem. 

Clarity: You choose the best possible response or reaction, which leads to an appropriate resolution for everyone involved.

Controlled: You handle information in a calm and measured way. In other words, you don’t get emotional or say something that cannot be undone.

What to keep in mind when communicating

So how do we strike this balance? Here’s what to hold in mind when it comes time for communicating with another person:

Be clear about your message.

If you’re not convinced what your message is, how can you expect to communicate it effectively? Before speaking, take a moment and figure out exactly where you stand on the issue. This will make it easier for others to understand where they stand concerning their relationship with you.

It’s also vital that we choose our words carefully when communicating – words have power, and we must select our terms concerning their impact on others.

Be honest about your feelings.

Assertiveness requires us to express how we feel without putting down or attacking another person in any way. For example, there’s a big difference between saying “I’m not interested” and “My schedule is full at the moment.” The former is a direct and honest way of saying “no,” while the latter implies that you’re too busy to spend time with them. It’s also important to speak from your heart rather than through gritted teeth.

Be clear about what you want.

Just as we need to express how we feel and what we want, it is equally important to let the other person know exactly how they can meet our needs. So, for example, instead of saying, “I feel like you don’t care about my feelings,” say, “When you do XYZ, I feel happy because now I know you’re thinking about me.”

Be sensitive to your listener.

The assertive response also requires paying close attention to the other person’s body language. For example, if they are leaning away from you or looking at their phone, this is an indication that they may not be open to what you’re saying (or perhaps it’s time for a break!).

Be aware of how your actions influence others.

Sometimes our behaviour can unintentionally cause harm to another person. For example, if you are saying “no” to an invitation because they keep asking you out at the last minute, they must understand that this hurts your feelings and makes it difficult for you to plan.

If we can communicate effectively – using both assertive and respectful language – we will maintain strong and healthy relationships with people around us.

See also: How To Be Assertive by Jordan Peterson

Read also:
What is Mass Communication? How to Communicate with a Large Audience
Introduction to Intercultural Communication Essential Conflict Management Skills


We are excited to share with you the art of assertive behaviour. Assertiveness is not aggressive, but people know what they want and go for it confidently without being too pushy about it. It’s vital in any relationship because there needs to be a balance between what one person wants, and another doesn’t. You should never feel guilty or ashamed if you need something from someone else – only ask them respectfully! This blog post has given some great examples of how assertive communication can be used in your day-to-day life, so make sure to read all the way through before heading over to our other posts on this topic! If you have liked anything we have written here, please let us know1

Professional consultant and project manager in software houses. He has over 8 years of experience as a project manager for key clients. Currently mainly works on business consulting and communication with strategic clients. Privately a fan of good food, board games, and cycling. He loves to share his experience with new people!

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