Interpersonal SkillsPersonality

What is Assertiveness

Assertiveness is a characteristic that is frequently mentioned in the context of communication and social training.

Being assertive is the ability to defend the rights of others or your own rights in an empathetic and calm manner and without being aggressive or accepting that something is wrong.

People who are assertive can convey their message without causing a fuss or getting themselves upset.

While everyone behaves in a passive or aggressive manner, occasionally, these ways of the interacting stem from a lack of confidence in self and, consequently, are unsuitable ways to interact with other people.


This page focuses on the rights and obligations of assertive behavior. It aims to illustrate how assertiveness could assist you.

What is the definition of assertiveness?

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines assertiveness as:

“Forthright Positive, insistent on the acceptance of one’s rights”

Also, in other words:

Assertiveness refers to being a strong advocate for your individual rights and expressing opinions, thoughts, and feelings clearly, honestly, and respectfully.

It is crucial to keep in mind as well that:

Being assertive is the best way always to be respectful of the opinions, feelings, and opinions of others.

The ones who are assertive always take into consideration the feelings, thoughts, and opinions of others and their own.


The ability to assertively convey your thoughts, feelings, and wishes in a respectful manner is a crucial personal and interpersonal ability. In all interactions with others, whether at home or at work, with your employers or customers, assertiveness can assist you in communicating your thoughts in a concise, honest, and reasonable manner without compromising the other person’s or your own rights.

The ability to assert oneself allows people to take action in their best interests, stand up for themselves with no excessive anxiety, communicate truthfully and easily, and declare personal rights without denying other people’s rights.

Passive, Aggressive, and Assertive

In the popular view, assertiveness is the middle point between aggressive and passive behavior. However, it’s likely easier to imagine the three points as a part of the triangle.

Being Assertive

Being assertive requires being aware of your own as well as other people’s rights, wishes, needs, and wants.

Assertiveness encourages people to remain honest and truthful about their thoughts, desires, and opinions to ensure that both parties behave appropriately.


Assertiveness includes:

  • Be open about expressing thoughts, desires, and feelings and encourage other people to do the same.
  • It is being aware of the opinions of others and responding accordingly regardless of whether you agree with their views or not.
  • It is being able to accept responsibility and delegate responsibility to others.
  • They are infrequently thanking others for the things they have achieved or continue to do.
  • The ability to admit mistakes and apologize.
  • Self-control is the key to success.
  • As if you are equal to the other.

A few people are unable to assert themselves due to a variety of reasons. They may find that they behave in a passive or aggressive manner.

Being Passive

Reacting passively or non-verbal manner can be a sign of submitting to the desires of others. It can also compromise confidence in one’s own rights and confidence in oneself.

A lot of people have the passive approach because they feel an unrelenting desire to be loved by other people. They do not see themselves as equals as they put more weight on other people’s rights and desires. In passiveness, it isn’t easy to express thoughts or feelings, leading to people doing things they would not like to do in hopes that others will like it. It also means they let others take the lead and make their own decisions.

A typical passive response is given by those who respond “yes” to requests even though they really want to say now.

For instance:

“Do you think you’ll get the time to wash your car this morning?”

A typical passive response could include:

“Yes I’ll get it done after I’ve completed the shopping and made an important phone call, completed with the file, washed up the windows, and prepared lunch for the children!”

An even better answer would be:

“No I’m not able to do it now because I have plenty of other things that I have to complete.”

For more on assertiveness and other interpersonal skills click here

For comprehensive learning explore free course on basics of Interpersonal Communication

Try out our Assertiveness Test to know where you stand


Marty Hoffman

Marty Hoffman, MBA, PhD Management Consultant for Fortune 500 and Corporate Strategist 📍 San Francisco, CA More »

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