How to be Assertive at Work

What is assertiveness? Assertiveness is a confident and forceful behavior.
“she has difficulty standing up for herself, even when assertiveness may be warranted”

If you are joining a new organization or stepping into a new role at work, you will need to have the skill of assertiveness. Being assertive means being able to stand up for your own or other people’s rights in a calm and positive way, without being either aggressive, or passively accepting ‘wrong’.

Assertiveness is a skill regularly referred to in social and communication skills training.

Assertive individuals are able to get their point across without upsetting others, or becoming upset themselves.

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What is holding you back? Don’t let self-doubt stop you from being assertive.

Dont’ over-analyze. Stop yourself over-analyzing by complimenting an aspect of your personality. There’s always something good about what you’re doing or saying.

Learn to love mistakes. Accept that things may go wrong sometimes. Recognize failure as a positive thing Learn from your mistakes and keep trying until you succeed.


Believe in yourself. Recognize your own abilities and have firm self-belief. You will then be a in the driving seat and be able to control the perception people form of you.

Follow these three simple steps to being assertive. Subtle changes make a big difference.

Step 1. Know how to naturally come across to your colleagues.

If you don’t know your natural way of communicating, you may well find it difficult to be a assertive, particularly when you’re dealing with someone who communicates in a different way than you.

Without even knowing it, you could

  • Make a colleague feel uncomfortable
  • Seem boring or disinterested
  • Look shy or apologetic
  • Come across as rude

Know your natural communication style and make sure negative perceptions don’t arise.



Complete your free “What’s my Communication Style Questionnaire.

Step 2. Adapt your communication style to suit the other person.

Assertive people can influence others around them. They do this by communicating in a way that suits the other person. This may not necessarily be their natural way of communicating.

Adapting your style is not giving in. It’s being clever.

By adapting and mirroring you can:

  • Gain control of a conversation.
  • Influence a situation.
  • Don’t distract people.
  • Be listened to.


Watch: Be observant when you’re talking.

Analyse: Identify the other person’s style.

Practice: Adapt and mirror their style.

Step 3: Use your body language to reinforce your message. 

Make bold eye contact. Try to look colleagues in the eye while they’re talking but while you’re speaking, it’s natural to look away on occasion.

Use your hands. Let your hands move as you talk. Confident people often look relaxed because their hands move naturally and in a coordinated way with their voice.


  • Show open, empty hands. This is a universal gesture of friendliness.
  • Match your gestures to the venue. If it’s a big room, you may need to slightly exaggerate the gesture so people sitting far away can pick up on it.
  • Very the gestures you use. This keeps it fresh and organic.


  • Wave your hands above shoulder height. This will make you appear uncomposed.
  • Hold your hands behind your back. The audience might perceive it as being aggressive.
  • Put your hands in your pockets and it can be perceived as disrespectful.



Smile. By smiling you exude warmth and positivity. You get the same benefits using a fake smile as a real one.


Eliminate any distracting habits and use your facial expressions, hands and posture to be assertive.

Develop these skills and your confidence will steadily grow.

You will begin to see the impact this has on the way you communicate and on your ability to be assertive at work. People will notice you, listen to you, and respect your opinion. You will begin influencing others around you.


Question: Has there ever been a time that wish you had been more assertive? If you had a second chance, would you be more assertive? Please leave your comment below.




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