Assertive Communication



Assertive communication is a style of communication in which:

  • You express your needs clearly, but respectfully
  • Others are treated with respect
  • You consider your needs as well as the needs of others
  • You compromise, when necessary
  • You can build stronger relationships
  • You use clear language to help get your point across
  • You improve your self-esteem

Using assertive communication generally receives a more positive response than using passive or aggressive communication.

What assertive communication is NOT:

Often times people confuse assertive communication with aggressive communication because it involves sticking up for yourself, but here's the difference:

Aggressive communication is when you force your needs or opinions on to others or bully or push others around.  The focus of aggressive communication is only on your needs and there is no compromise.  Aggressive communication can damage relationships and self-esteem and may lead to physical aggression.

Another unhelpful form of communication is passive communication.  People often engage in passive communication in order to avoid conflict, but in the end this form of communication can be more problematic.  Passive communication can damage your self-esteem and relationships.  Others often ignore your needs and in turn you may end up feeling hurt or angry.

Passive communication involves not speaking up for yourself, either because you do not think your views matter or because you want to avoid conflict.  When you are passive you put your needs last and allow yourself to be bullied or ignored.   When communicating passively you may undermine your opinions by making statements such as "if you don't mind" or "I don't mean to be a bother."

How can you be assertive?

  • State your point of view clearly.
  • Speak at a normal conversation volume and make sure you sound firm, but not aggressive - how you say it is just as important as what you say.
  • Body language should match what you are saying, be confident in what you are saying by looking the other person in the eye and standing tall.
  • Avoid exaggerating statements by using absolutes such as always or never.  For example, instead of saying "you never do anything helpful around the house" try saying, "I need you to take out the trash tonight."
  • Speak with facts rather than judgments.
  • Use "I" statements as much as possible to communicate how you feel about the situation rather than placing blame or accusing.  For example, "I feel frustrated when you do not clean up the kitchen" rather than "You are such a slob."
  • Practice! Assertiveness a skill which requires practice, especially if it is not something you are used to doing.


Assertive communication.  Retrieved from

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