Manage Yourself – Ten Tips to Become More Assertive

To be happy at work you need to be assertive- not aggressive or passive. Self-Assertiveness is something I have struggled with. To be self-assertive we need to learn how to serve our own needs without ignoring the needs of others. As an only child it wasn’t necessary for me to be assertive in my family. My needs were always acknowledged and served. The difficulty came for me when I was with other people. I was never sure what my needs were. After much work I have learned to identify what I need and express that but it is still difficult for me. I smiled when I picked up the book I used for this list at the library. The librarian, a friend, said, “Oh Alvah, you don’t need that book!” Well maybe not in her eyes but I know I need to continue to work on many of these tips. What about you?

From Standing Up for Yourself -The Art of Self-Assertion by Johanna Skouras

I have quoted directly from the book. If you are interested in reading and owning the book yourself it can be ordered through Amazon.

  1. “You can choose how to react to a stressful situation rather than get swept away. You take control by deciding what you will or will not put up with.” It is worthwhile to decide on your boundaries (what you will not put up with) ahead of time. Then you can practice your reaction to the point where it will be automatic when the occasion warrants it.
  2. “Non-action is an action. You’ve made the decision not to act.” Sometimes I’m left thinking about something for so long that non-action becomes my default. I’ve worked to be more self-aware so that I know what is important to me and can decide more quickly whether or not to take action.
  3. “In trying to resolve a conflict remember that conflict/resolution is almost always about compromise and not about winning or losing.” This is important. If you feel you are the loser, you’ll have a lot of anger associated with this interaction. Both you and the other party need to feel you have come to a good compromise neither of you getting everything you wanted. In the past because I don’t like conflict I sometimes gave in and then got angry with myself later. Dealing with conflict this way saps your strength and confidence.
  4. “Let go of perfectionism. Loosening up is not the same as losing control.” For me being a perfectionist is a way to be sure no one can find flaws in my work. It is a way to control my environment. Some of the flaws that I find are ones that no one else would see and they cause me angst. I lose a lot of time trying to be perfect. If you are a perfectionist you might like to read this article.
  5. “In your self-talk assessments, change your perspective from “What do they think of me?” to “What do I think of them?”” This one is important. If you always worry about what others think of you, you will always be trying to please people. This means doing a lot of things you really don’t want to do but can’t refuse. Learn to say “No” and don’t worry what others will think of you. Evaluate the opportunities to decide if working with them will be a good experience for you before making a decision.
  6. “Always examine what you have going for you rather than what’s going against you.” This may be difficult for a “glass is half empty” person but awareness of your strengths and talents will give you confidence. It will make a difference in your outlook and attitude.
  7. “As long as you know you could tell someone the raw truth but you choose not to, then you are still being assertive.” The key words here are that “choose not to”. Now you are making an active choice. Pick your battles. You can’t fight for everything so decide what is most important to you and stand up for those issues.
  8. “You are responsible for your actions, not your feelings.” Your feelings might be anger or embarrassment. You can’t change those but you can decide not to attack the other person verbally or physically. It may even be helpful to let the other person know what you are feeling. You are never wrong in what you are feeling.
  9. “When you can’t change the system and you can’t change the other, you change.” The only person you can change is you. If another person is not open to your ideas, you will not be able to change them. Sometimes you can change a system especially if the only person the system impacts is you. When neither is available for change, you have to change. You can keep complaining about it and make yourself and everyone else miserable or you can change the way you look at it.
  10. “Practice self-forgiveness and be generous with small personal rewards for your hard work.” We all make mistakes. Forgive yourself and move on when you make one. One thing most of us forget to do is reward ourselves when we work hard. Celebrate your successes but also be good to yourself during tough times.

Assertiveness Coaching

Begin the year by becoming more assertive. How do you do that? As your coach I will help to identify what is important to you. We’ll talk about times when you wish you had been assertive and how you might improve your response. Practice responding in a safe confidential environment. If you are seriously interested in becoming more assertive email me at or call me at 781-598-0388. We’ll discuss ways I might help you and how we could work together. There is no charge or obligation for the discussion. The discussion itself will give one or two insights into your own way of being assertive.


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