“The Other Kind of Smart”, a book on emotional intelligence describes assertiveness as:

The ability to maintain boundaries and express our needs clearly and directly, including to express emotions and possibly unpopular opinions counter to the “group thinking”.

But it doesn’t mean we always get what we ask for. An assertive person respects the rights of others, and their boundaries as well. Assertiveness allows for a difference of opinion. It allows for a win/win situation.

What are your boundaries?

An assertive person can be loud or soft spoken, it doesn’t matter, because quiet people can have firmness and intent. The point is that we need to believe our opinions and feelings matter before we feel free to express them. The less dependent we are on the approval of others, the less fear we will have of offending them by being open, honest, and stating our wants.

Firmness of purpose is one of the most necessary sinews of character, and one of the best instruments of success. Without it genius wastes its efforts in a maze of inconsistencies – Philip Dormer Chesterfield (British Statesman)

To know what assertiveness is, it’s also important to know what it isn’t. Assertiveness is not:

Aggression: Wishing to impose his/her will on the other party

Passive aggressive: Appearing to go along with everything and that nothing bothers them, though underneath they are boiling. “The Other Kind of Smart” advises that a passive aggressive person …

… learns to express themselves much earlier in situations than they feel they need to. This behaviour can be learned with practice.

Practices to increase assertiveness:

downloadPractice 1: Asking directly for what you want

Practice asking for what you want. Don’t excuse yourself, just ask directly.

downloadPractice 2: Don’t ask for permission

Don’t ask for permission for something clearly if it is ok to do. Tell yourself that your time, opinion, the space you take up, is as valuable as anyone else’s.

downloadPractice 3: Cut out indecisive language

Pay attention to the language you use. cut out “ahs”, pauses, “ums”, “like”. Slow down speaking if you have to, but this helps your words sound firm and strong rather than indecisive (which doesn’t just affect others opinion of you but yours of yourself).

downloadPractice 4: Speak louder

This one is self explanatory

downloadPractice 5: Asking for compensation

Make it a habit to ask for compensation if something is wrong with a purchase, be it a restaurant meal, clothing item, or auto repair. Ask for evidence that auto work was done.

downloadPractice 6: Ask for clarification

When a specialist is explaining something to you and you don’t understand, ask questions until you do.

downloadPractice 7: Be calm

Don’t speak up for yourself if you dont feel in control of yourself. Wait until you can speak calm and firmly.

downloadPractice 8: End inappropriate conversations

If a sales person is pressuring you, end the conversation politely and promptly.


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