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Mastering Assertive Communication Skills: Developing and Building Confidence

Updated: Jun 9

Assertive communication skills are important as they allow us to express ourselves directly and honestly while also respecting the rights and needs of others. Assertiveness is the ability to stand up for ourselves and our needs without being aggressive or passive.

In this blog, we will delve into the key concepts of assertiveness and how it can benefit our personal and professional relationships, from understanding the difference between assertive, aggressive and passive communication to learning practical strategies to improve assertiveness.

Whether you want to improve your assertive communication skills at work or strengthen relationships with loved ones, understanding and practising assertiveness can be a powerful tool for success.

Assertive communication skills start with knowing our needs.

What Does Assertiveness Mean?

Assertiveness is the ability to express one's thoughts, feelings, and needs confidently and directly. It is an important skill in personal and professional settings, as it allows one to communicate effectively and advocate for oneself without being aggressive or passive.

Overall, assertive communication skills involve being honest, respectful, and confident. It allows you to express your thoughts and needs in a healthy way and can improve your relationships with others. By practising assertiveness, you can become more confident in yourself and your abilities and better advocate for your needs and desires.

Assertiveness is not Aggression

Assertiveness and aggression are two different ways of communicating and expressing oneself.

Assertiveness is the ability to express one's needs, wants, and feelings directly and honestly while still respecting the rights and needs of others. It is a form of communication characterised by self-confidence and the ability to stand up for oneself without hostility or aggression.

Conversely, aggression is a form of behaviour characterised by using force or hostility to achieve a goal. Anger or frustration often drives it, and it can involve verbal or physical actions intended to harm or intimidate others. Aggression is not always directed at others; it can be directed at objects or oneself.

In short, assertiveness is a way of standing up for oneself while respecting others, while aggression is a way of trying to get what one wants through force or hostility.

Assertive communication builds relationships and mutual outcomes; It helps you achieve your goals. In contrast, aggressive communication drives people away and creates conflict and resistance.

What is Passive Communication

Assertive communication can be contrasted with passive communication. In passive communication, an individual avoids expressing their thoughts and feelings and needs to avoid conflict or to please others.

Is Being Assertive Negative or Positive

Assertive communication is generally considered to be a positive form of communication. Assertive communication allows individuals to advocate for themselves and to express their own opinions while also being open to the perspectives of others.

Overall, assertive communication is a positive form of communication that can help to improve relationships, resolve conflicts, and advocate for oneself in various situations. It involves expressing oneself respectfully and openly without being confrontational or aggressive.

What are Some Examples of Assertive Behaviour

Here are some examples of assertive behaviour:

  1. Expressing one's thoughts, feelings, and needs openly and honestly: "I feel upset when plans are changed at the last minute. Can we please discuss and make a plan in advance next time?"

  2. Respecting the rights and feelings of others: Communicate respectfully. For example, use phrases like: "I understand you have a different perspective on this issue. Can we discuss it further and try to find a solution that works for both of us?"

  3. Setting boundaries: "I appreciate your input but must decide on my own."

  4. Using "I" statements to express one's thoughts and feelings: "I feel hurt when you speak to me in that tone. Can we please respectfully discuss this?"

  5. Asking for clarification: "I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Could you please explain further?"

  6. Saying "no" when necessary: "I appreciate the offer but am uncomfortable. Thank you for understanding."

  7. Seeking win/win outcomes, where possible: "I understand your perspective, and I also need some alone time. Can we compromise and set aside a certain amount of time each week for both of our needs?"

Are There Cultural Differences in Assertiveness?

Yes, there are cultural differences in assertiveness. Different cultures have different norms and expectations regarding assertiveness, and what is considered assertive behaviour in one culture may be viewed as aggressive or inappropriate in another culture. For example, in some cultures, direct communication is seen as assertive, while indirect and polite communication is preferred in other cultures. In some cultures, assertiveness is more highly valued, while it is less valued in others.

Tips for Practicing Assertive Communication Skills

Here are some tips for practising assertiveness:

  1. Know your values and boundaries: It's important to be clear about what you believe in and are willing to accept. What is your bottom line? This will help you to be more confident in expressing your thoughts and needs.

  2. Practice active listening: Listen to what others say and try to understand their perspective. This will help you respond more thoughtfully and effectively.

  3. Use a calm and respectful tone: Even if you are feeling upset or frustrated, it's important to stay calm and respectful in your communication. Yelling or being sarcastic will only escalate the situation and make it harder to resolve. Also, be aware of your facial expressions. Rolling your eyes or other dismissive gestures will inflate a situation.

  4. Stand up for yourself: It's okay to say no or disagree. Don't be afraid to express your opinions and needs, even if they differ from those of others.

  5. Seek support: If you are having trouble with assertiveness, consider seeking the support of a therapist, counsellor or psychologist. They can help you to develop this important skill and build your confidence.

How Can a Psychologist Help You to Be More Assertive?

A psychologist can help you develop assertive communication skills in several ways. They can:

  1. Assist you in identifying and expressing your thoughts, feelings, and needs: A psychologist can help you become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and needs and express them clearly and directly. They can also help you use "I" statements to express your feelings and needs rather than blaming or accusing others.

  2. Help you set boundaries: A psychologist can assist you in developing healthy boundaries and communicating them clearly and respectfully to others.

  3. Teach you active listening skills: A psychologist can help you improve your active listening skills, which can assist you in understanding the perspectives and needs of others and resolving conflicts more constructively.

  4. Help you to seek compromise: A psychologist can assist you in finding solutions that meet the needs of both parties and in seeking compromise when conflicts arise.

  5. Provide guidance on communicating respectfully: A psychologist can help you to communicate your thoughts and needs in a respectful and non-confrontational way and to avoid being aggressive or dismissive of others' thoughts and feelings.

Overall, a psychologist can provide the tools and guidance to develop assertive communication skills and advocate for yourself healthily and constructively.

Find a Psychologist

Professional support is available if you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty. Contact iflow psychology today at 02 6061 1144 to schedule an appointment.

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As registered psychologists, we provide compassionate support tailored to your needs. Take the first step in your journey towards well-being.

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Location Details

Visit Iflow Psychology in Leichhardt, Inner West Sydney, NSW, Australia, for in-person consultations. We also provide convenient telehealth services, ensuring accessibility no matter your location.


The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. Before making any decisions, we recommend consulting your treating doctor, health professionals, and legal representatives. This is particularly important if you have health concerns, existing mental health or medical conditions, or if you feel you are not coping.

(c) 2023 Dean Harrison


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