What can I do to be more assertive?

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When you communicate assertively, you express your own needs and desires while respecting the needs and desires of others. Assertive communication allows both parties to engage in a dignified discussion about the issue at hand.

Keys to assertive communication are:
  • Respecting your own feelings, needs and desires
  • Standing up for your feelings without shaming, degrading or humiliating the other person
  • Using “I” statements rather than “you” statements. For example, say, “I need a break” or “I would like to talk to you and work this out” instead of “You are irresponsible” or “You never help out.”
  • Not using “should” statements. For example, say, “It’s important to me that promises be kept,” instead of “You should keep your promise.”

Try out these tips that can help in the workplace, in social situations, and at home with your family:

  • Learn to say no. A simple “no, thank you” commun­icates to yourself and to others that “I respect myself enough to act in my own best self-interest, and I respect you enough to know that you will understand.”
  • Maintain courtesy. Courtesy is the cornerstone of effective and assertive communication. It relays the assumption that you will treat your needs and those of others equally and that neither will suffer at the other’s expense.
  • Be direct. Direct communication while maintaining courtesy is as important as saying “no” at the appropriate time.
  • Meet your own needs. Hypoglycemia is an example of an urgent situation in which you must be assertive. Don’t put off treatment because you are afraid of offending someone with whom you are interacting.
  • Be firm. It is important to be firm with both yourself and others. Make a plan about how you will handle certain ­situations. If pressured, explain your decision directly to others.
  • Maintain self-respect. If you respect yourself, it will be easier to be assertive.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.