Assertiveness Isn’t a Bad Word!

By: Rachel Carpenter

When many of us think of assertiveness, we start to get a negative idea of the word. We sometimes forget that assertiveness doesn’t have to be a negative trait, rather it can be your Superpower! It all depends on how you use it.


 But what exactly is assertiveness? The dictionary defines assertiveness as ‘confident and forceful behavior’. Again, we start to get a bad feeling from that word forceful. 


But think about it. Sometimes it’s important to be forceful. When we know something isn’t right, it can be up to us alone to fix it. 


Being forceful in your pursuit of doing the right thing or being forceful in your pursuit of a better career is much different than being forceful in sharing your political opinions or religious beliefs. 

Think of being forceful in the context of doing what’s right, not only for yourself but for others too! This is called healthy assertiveness. 


Aggressive and assertive are NOT synonyms! By associating these together, we lose sight of how important it is to develop assertiveness!


But about this healthy assertiveness… what are some ways to develop it or implement it? It’s easy to say ‘Be more Assertive’! But how do we go about doing it?

Firstly, think about how you communicate with others. 

  • Being assertive isn’t about forcing your beliefs or opinions on people- it’s about making them heard. 

  • Be assertive in voicing your concerns. You can’t change the world (or even your workplace) if you never speak up! 

  • Be assertive in valuing your words just as much as you value everyone else’s. 


Secondly, think about how well you listen.

  • It’s difficult to be assertive and give others your views if you don’t understand their perspective. 

  • Why would anyone listen to you if it’s obvious that you haven’t considered the situation from a point of view besides your own? 

  • Assertive and close-minded are very different- asserting your beliefs doesn’t mean that you ignore others. It means you aren’t scared to give your insight. 

  • The more people that come together and put forth ideas assertively rather than aggressively, more can be accomplished!


Lastly, Be POSITIVE!

  • Be calm and humble when asserting yourself. Others need to believe that you are level-headed and logical in your views, rather than simply being aggressive.

  • Being assertive gives no one the right to be rude. If you want the opportunity to assert yourself, also give others that opportunity. 

  • No one’s voice should be drowned out. 


Finding the balance between assertiveness and all the negative traits that people associate with this word can be tricky… but use these tips to assert yourself confidently (and allow others to do the same!). 


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