Communication and assertiveness

Do you find it difficult to say no? Can you ask for what you want? Do you often feel you’re being treated like a doormat? Do people sometimes say they find your reactions aggressive? Do you feel guilty if you think you haven’t been nice enough?

If you identify with some or all of these statements, you may want to develop ways to think, communicate and behave more assertively.

Being assertive means respecting yourself and other people; seeing people as equal to you, not better than you or less important than you. The goal of assertive behaviour is to stand up for your rights in such a way that you do not violate another person’s rights. It is achieved through open, direct and honest communication, valuing others, listening, respecting, problem solving and negotiating with other people.

Becoming more assertive does not mean that you always get what you want, but it can help you achieve a compromise. Remember – you can change yourself but you can’t change other people. Even if you don’t get the outcome you want, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you handled the situation well.

Students talking in a group