6 Tips for Assertive Communication

Discover how to improve your assertive communication in different situations and strengthen your skills to express yourself in a respectable - and respectful - way.
6 Tips for Assertive Communication

Written by Editorial Team

Last update: 20 June, 2023

Assertive communication is a fundamental element in every person’s daily interactions. Through it, it’s possible to express our ideas, opinions, and feelings in a clear, respectful, and honest way. At the same time, it helps us to recognize and respect the rights and opinions of others.

Implementing assertive communication has a relevant impact on both our personal and professional relationships. It allows for open and effective communication while avoiding misunderstandings, unnecessary conflicts, and resentments. So, how can you improve this communication style? Here are some tips.

How can I improve my assertive communication? Practical tips

As stated by the Mayo Clinic, assertiveness is a fundamental communication skill. Its practice is based on mutual respect, which promotes healthier interpersonal relationships. Fortunately, this is a type of communication that can be learned and improved. Let’s take a look at how.

1. Know yourself and identify your needs and desires

One of the first steps to improving your assertive communication is to develop greater self-awareness of your emotions and thoughts. This involves being aware of how you feel in different situations and being able to identify and understand your own emotional reactions.

Take a moment to reflect on your emotions and ask yourself the following questions:

  • “How am I feeling right now?”
  • “What thoughts are going through my mind?”

Pay attention to your emotional reactions, whether it’s anger, sadness, frustration, or happiness. Recognizing this will allow you to communicate more effectively and avoid impulsive or inappropriate responses.

Apart from this, it’s in your best interest to identify your own needs and desires in different communication situations. This involves understanding what you really want to express, what your goals are, and what you hope to achieve by communicating assertively.

2. Set boundaries and say “no” when necessary

A fundamental part of assertive communication is being aware of your own boundaries and your rights. Recognize that you have the right to set personal boundaries and express your needs without feeling guilty.

Understanding your own boundaries will allow you to maintain balance in your relationships and avoid situations where you feel uncomfortable or compromised.

Therefore, saying “no” in a respectful and firm manner is essential to maintaining your boundaries and taking care of yourself. In the publication made by the Mayo Clinic, they explain that “no” is, in fact, a complete sentence.

So, you don’t have to hesitate to say it and you don’t need to explain yourself either. However, if you think an explanation is necessary, communicate it, but simply and directly.

We think you may also enjoy reading this article: Emotional Communication: Tips to Better Connect and Express Yourself

3. Imagine scenarios and practice what you would say assertively

Mentally practicing different scenarios in which you have an assertive speech is an excellent way to strengthen your communication skills. In face, an article published in the journal Annales Universitatis Apulensis Series Oeconomica details some guidelines to keep in mind when doing so:

  • Keep your focus on the topic and don’t complicate it unnecessarily.
  • Remain calm at all times. Controlling your emotions will help you respond in a reasonable manner.
  • Be polite but firm when interacting with the other person. Mutual respect is essential in all assertive communication.
  • Make eye contact that isn’t intimidating. To do this, alternate your gaze between his or her left eye, right eye, and other parts of their face.
  • Keep your tone of voice friendly and calm.
  • Remember that if you have done nothing wrong, there’s no need to apologize.

4. Learn to use your body language

The information provided by the Mayo Clinic on this topic explains that communication goes beyond words. Therefore, it’s necessary to act with confidence. This will be reflected in your body language. Some suggestions for doing so are as follows:

  • Maintain an upright posture, but lean forward a bit to show interest and openness.
  • Watch your facial expression. Maintain a neutral or positive expression that reflects your willingness to interact constructively.
  • Avoid crossing your arms or legs, as this can convey a barrier or defensiveness.
  • Spend time practicing in front of a mirror or with a trusted friend.

The most important thing is that you manage to maintain congruence between your verbal and nonverbal messages to create coherent communication.

Like this article? You may also like to read: Express Your Affection to the People You Love Every Day

5. Write down what you would like to say

Writing down what you want to express is a valuable tool to ensure you convey your feelings effectively. Take some time to reflect on what you want to communicate and then put it down on paper or on a screen.

This practice gives you the opportunity to organize your thoughts, select the right words, and structure your message in a coherent and clear way.

6. Talk about the facts

The Center for Clinical Interventions explains that, when practicing assertive communication, it’s crucial to focus on concrete, verifiable facts rather than making assumptions or subjective judgments.

This involves describing specific situations, behaviors, or events objectively, without adding personal assessments or biased interpretations.

Examples of assertive communication

In everyday life, there are different situations in which, because of someone else, you might feel frustrated, unheard, or affected in any way. Whether in the work or personal environment, you should know how to react to these states in an assertive way.

Below, we’re going to give you some examples of everyday situations in which it’s necessary to apply assertive communication.

They interrupt your interventions and don’t let you express your ideas at work

This may be a common situation for many. So, to apply assertive communication, you could say something like, “I would like the opportunity to share my ideas without interruptions to contribute to the discussion. Can we agree to establish a turn to speak or some other way to ensure that we all have the opportunity to express ourselves without interruptions?”

A friend has canceled on you at the last minute for the third time

If this happens to you, you can communicate how you feel about it in the following way: “I’ve noticed that you’ve canceled our plans on short notice the last three times. I understand that unforeseen circumstances can arise, but I would like us to find a way to organize ourselves better, taking into account our commitments, so that we can avoid canceling at the last minute.

Your housemate doesn’t wash the dirty dishes and that makes it difficult for you to use the kitchen

To let him or her know what he or she is doing wrong, you could communicate it like this: “I’ve noticed that dirty dishes are piling up in the sink and not being washed on a regular basis. Is there any way we can agree on a system where we are each responsible for the cooking utensils used so that they are washed after use? That way, we can keep the kitchen clean.”

It’s all about practice

Practice allows you to build confidence, improve your active listening skills, and adapt to different situations and personalities. As you strive to be more assertive in your daily interactions, you will see relationships grow stronger, misunderstandings diminish and collaborative solutions become more frequent.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.