How To Be Assertive in the Workplace

Everybody needs self-esteem. It is an important part of a man’s value and has to do with how you feel about yourself. Having positive self-esteem basically means that someone likes who they are where you have that feeling that you are a worthwhile person and deserving of respect, kindness, and happiness. Self-esteem is one of the foundations for being assertive and building a balanced self-esteem is the key to develop assertiveness.

Assertiveness means having the courage to clearly and confidently say what you think without fear or without anxiety that it may displease other people. It means the ability to stand up, speak up and express what you really think or feel in a positive and constructive way when placed in a situation where other people have opinions that are different to yours. Being assertive means that you are still being willing to listen to what other people might have to say, and it is still about being willing to find a compromise that works for both of you.

In doing so, some people confuse being assertive with being aggressive, leading them to an incredibly passive behaviour pattern where they may feel like they are not being heard or respected. If you or someone you know is in this position and wants to be more assertive without sounding or appearing like a bully, the following might help you:

1. Assertiveness Is Done With The Intention Of Hurting No One.

As most people find it inconvenient to voice out their thoughts and feelings about certain issues or topics, many tend to just go with the flow, avoid the conflict head on so as to prevent hurting other people’s feelings and at the expense of hurting themselves.

True, this may place you at a favourable position at first but when the aggressive behaviour of another has become habitual, you will find yourself in an uncomfortable situation where your self-esteem and confidence may be in peril.

No one wants to be put in such kind of position and in order to avoid that, we have to accept first that we cannot control how people may react to our assertiveness. We have to expect that people react differently so sometimes being assertive will lead to hurt feelings even if that was never the intention.

2. Assertiveness Originates From a Place of Valuing Yourself as Equal to Others.

Being assertive is making sure that the rights, personal boundaries and space of all the parties are being respected and considered, which include yours. Assertiveness is not tantamount to bullying and is definitely not about you being self-centred or selfish. The virtues imply recognizing the wants and needs of another without impinging the rights of the other party.

3. Assertiveness Means You Speak to the Point.

Being assertive means that you are not afraid of expressing your truths and for upholding them, even if it won’t be liked. Assertiveness is not designed to insult or belittle another person. Again, assertiveness comes from a place of valuing the rights of all the parties by acknowledging each and everyone’s rights equally.

Assertiveness is different from aggression as the latter is done either to just attack a person, with no regard to their feelings. On the other hand, assertiveness is done with the intention of fostering mutual respect for all the parties.

Tools You Can Implement to Help You Be More Assertive at Work

It can be really tough to say no at work. In order to get what you really want, you need to learn to be assertive. Not only can it boost your energy but it can also give you some respect around the office if it is done the right way.

In this piece, we are going to suggest effective tools that will be helpful to you in asserting your rights. These strategies will help you learn how to easily assert your ideas, your talents or anything that you want to do in order to have an significant impact within your organization without coming off as aggressive or a bully.

1. Set Boundaries

Upholding personal boundaries affords a way to let hostile people know that you won’t tolerate their antics. If you habitually allow these types of people to stand close and get direct offensive comments at you, you are placing yourself in a situation where such a person can freely behave aggressively towards you. This is even more alarming and likely to occur unceasingly if the aggressor lacks self-awareness or conscience, which makes it very important that you enforce boundaries of communication and some safe distance between the aggressor and you.

In doing so, just be mindful that you act assertively and not aggressively. Studies have shown that people who used to acting passively can have a hard time to understand how to act assertively. Many people who are new to initiating assertiveness tend to mistake aggressiveness for assertiveness. This is a starter’s inevitable mistake as he/she is still on the temporary and transitional stage towards becoming an assertive person. But this behaviour should not linger as to do so is tantamount to being a bully yourself.

2. Let Go of Guilt

A lot of times when we say ‘No’, we feel that it’s terrible and we feel that we have to take responsibility for the things we have absolutely no control over. The other pieces that we feel like we have to give answers to everything and reasons for everything.

Many of us, especially those with a more passive style, have a difficulty being assertive because we worry about how guilty we will feel as a result of not going along with what other people want.

This is a classic instance where people who struggle to be assertive identify true guilt instead of fake guilt. Guilt is the emotion we feel when we have committed something wrong, not when someone else implies that we have done something wrong. Hence, the key is to know how to distinguish true guilt from fake guilt. So next time you are put in an awkward position, before feeling guilty about not committing to it, try to ask yourself first if it is legitimate guilt. If not, then there’s no reason to feel bad about it as you have just asserted what you truly feel about their demands.

3. Don’t Expect People To Read Your Mind

Never expect people to read your mind, or to know what you want. Your colleagues, as well as your superiors, have probably a lot of things on their plate, and analyzing and contemplating what you have on your mind is probably not part of it.

Part of your job is to be able to communicate clearly, hence, if you need something, say so or if something bothers you, speak up calmly and with confidence. Look confident when you are asking for a favour, making a request or even when stating a preference. Stand up straight, smile, lean in a bit and keep a neutral facial expression, while looking the person in the eye.

Being able to demonstrate what you truly feel while respecting the rights of others shows that you are equipped with assertiveness which is a healthy habit every successful person should have.

4. Stop apologizing

Apologising is a common reflex, especially in the workplace. Most people think that when they say, “I’m sorry”, they appear to show respect, deference, or accommodation, when in fact it is just actually making them look less confident in their own professional abilities.

Indeed, it is very important to be accountable for the things that you may have inadvertently mishandled and there’s really nothing wrong about that. What’s alarming is that some people commonly use the word “I’m sorry” and insert it into almost every sentence.

Over-apologizing can make a person look submissive and weak, instead of confident and strong. The next time you are placed in a distressing situation, try to analyze the root cause of the conflict before reacting to it. Do not apologise when something is not your fault. Many people tend to feel uncomfortable or insecure and aren’t sure what else to say in cases like this. Instead of worrying about not being liked, respond or suggest an alternative solution to the problem. Implement an immediate correction and recovery plan instead of saying sorry which does not provide an alternative and feasible resolution.

5. Get Help and Practice

Having low self-esteem is not just a global sense of being worthless. When a person has very low self-esteem, that person feels inadequate in social situations and incapable of accomplishing any demanding work. When a person experiences severe low self-esteem, such individual is likely to feel guilty besides feeling inadequate and ineffectual.

If you or someone you know is suffering from low self-esteem, it is best to get an appointment with an expert immediately before it escalates to depression and other severe mental health conditions. Sometimes. What we just need is a coach to say you are worth it or to give you ways how to deal with someone who maybe is very aggressive and it is hard to say no for.

Using motivational quotes around is also beneficial so you keep yourself psyched to be able to do something such as a project or a task at work. Leave yourself a note and let yourself know that you have accomplished so far, particularly saying no that does not feel right for you. Allow yourself to feel good about that and then as a result, you can say no to other things moving forward.

6. Know Your Rights

Being aware of your rights is the key in order to successfully assert what you want and not want in your life. We will all be going to meet people who want you to do things which do not go well with your principles in life, which you may feel uncomfortable doing.

Educating yourself on the things you are entitled to is your sweet refuge in times like these, especially in your workplace. Learning to be assertive is always easier and freeing if it is grounded on legal and ethical boundaries. Truly, knowledge is power as it can help you to seek what you need.


Developing more assertiveness in the workplace have a myriad of benefits in living the best years of your life. Being able to assert what is right for you does not only create a healthy working environment for everyone but also promotes equality in the workplace. However, being assertive does not involve using a hostile approach to get what you want. Rather, it means expressing and compromising the needs of both parties without violating the rights of another.

There is a lot of reason why some people have a hard time to voice out their concerns around the office. One fact is that they think they are not worth it and the other part is they are worried about what is going to happen. Mostly, they have a lot of fear of being able to speak up their truths and the bothering thought that the boss might just find somebody to come to the office who will do their job.

Unfortunately, for some people who suffer from severe low self-esteem or the lack of confidence continue to feel bad about themselves despite having victories in their life. This is due to the hard fact that changing or shifting one’s ingrained ideas and behaviour can be very challenging, difficult and may even take years of treatment.

If you or someone you know is struggling or feeling inadequate in social situations or is unable to socially perform effectively in the office due to low self-esteem and lack of confidence in yourself, it is very important to contact a medical expert in order to properly aid yourself or someone you know to overcome this discomfort. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with our sensible and caring team here at Blissiree Pty Ltd.