Assert Yourself The Basics of Communication Style

Assertiveness is a style of communication that is firm but respectful. It allows you to set boundaries while being mindful of others’ feelings. Being assertive can help you express your thoughts without being aggressive, passive, or timid. Although many mistake assertiveness for aggression, it’s nothing like the latter. 


Aggressive communication is rude or offensive. It shames or bullies the listener into compliance. Just as bad, aggressive communicators rarely listen to others. If you find yourself to be an aggressive communicator, be aware that this communication style may damage trust and result in people resenting, avoiding, and even opposing you. Moreover, this communication style weakens relationships and causes unnecessary conflict. 


Passive communicators are timid, rather than forward. They often accommodate others’ desires at the expense of their own needs and feelings. If you are a passive communicator, the tendency to avoid conflict and not express differing opinions may suggest that your feelings and opinions are not as valuable as others. This can lead to internal feelings of stress, resentment, anger, and low confidence.


Passive-aggressive communicators include sarcasm and taunts in their communication style. Most damaging for passive-aggressive communicators, they often complain about people behind their backs. If you find yourself in this lot, the inability to handle confrontations and be direct could result in a negative attitude and actions thus making it difficult for your goals and needs to be met.

Assertiveness: A Practical Guide

Since assertiveness is a social skill, with practice it can be developed. 

  • Effective Body Language: Project confidence through your good posture. Maintain regular eye contact and a positive facial expression. 
  • Clear Communication: Use ‘I’ statements to communicate your thoughts without sounding aggressive. Use a polite but firm tone and be direct in your message. Say no when appropriate, especially when your boundaries are being disregarded. 
  • Behaviour: Assess your current communication style to make relevant changes. Maintain control over feelings especially when others’ opinions differ. Instead of arguing, present potential solutions. 
  • Rehearsal: Rehearse the above suggestions in front of a mirror, or as a role play with a friend, using relevant hypothetical scenarios. Then move on to implementing the changes in real-life situations. Start small with low-risk situations as with friends and family before moving to more difficult situations such as those at work.

Why is being Assertive Important?

Some cognitive benefits of being assertive are that assertive individuals experience less anxiety, even when under stress. 


Behaviourally, assertive individuals are able to express their thoughts in a firm, yet respectful manner. Instead of focusing only on the content of the message, an assertive individual also uses a polite tone to convey their message. This ensures that the actual message is not lost due to an aggressive tone or overlooked entirely due to a passive tone. 


From an emotional perspective, assertive communicators are able to regulate their positive and negative emotions effectively, which helps when taking criticism without resorting to aggression or passivity. All these advantages lead to a greater sense of agency and effective communication within relationships which makes for a more functional and happy lifestyle. 

About Author – 

Hardika Zaveri – 

Hardika has completed her MSc. in Clinical Psychology from Erasmus University Rotterdam. She has been trained in REBT at the Advanced Level from the Albert Ellis Institute, New York. Hardika has previously worked with underprivileged children and cancer patients through various NGOs and also has prior experience working in a psychiatric clinic.