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4 Proven Ways to Become Effectively Assertive in the Workplace

Even if have the right balance between too little or too much assertiveness, you may not always use the most effective techniques to assert yourself in the workplace.  

In this blog post, you’ll uncover why you should be assertive at work and 4 proven ways to become more effectively assertive so you can have your voice heard in the most impactful and efficient way.

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Why is Assertiveness at Work Important?

Assertiveness is an essential soft skill that everyone needs. If you’re assertive at work, you can be sure that you can handle anything that comes your way. While speaking up in meetings or presenting new ideas with confidence may not come naturally, moving away from indirect or passive-aggressive approaches will boost your communication skills and valuable leadership qualities. 

Being assertive sets you up for success and removes any risk of burnout, confusing communication, and having unmet needs or desires. This communication style has a positive impact on team collaboration and organisational success - not just on the individual. It encourages good, honest feedback which is communicated across the team to help everyone reach goals and boost morale.  

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4 Proven Ways to Become Effectively Assertive in the Workplace 

Whether you’re a manager or in a junior role, here are 4 verbal and non-verbal assertiveness techniques that will help you gain self-confidence, build positive connections and communicate more effectively… 

1. Leave negative emotions at the door 

We all have emotions and even the negative ones can creep up on us when we’re at work, but if you’re navigating a difficult situation it’s best to leave those feelings and emotions out of the message you’re aiming to convey.  

Using passive or aggressive communication styles only results in further dispute, resentment and tension. If you’re struggling to control your emotions, take five minutes out, take some deep breaths and stay calm.

It can take some practice to control your emotions, especially in a confrontational situation or if you’re talking to people who use aggressive behaviours. But if you can do it, not only will you be the better person, but you’ll also be seen as more of a leader and someone who’s under control. 

Read more: Abrasive or assertive: what’s the difference?  

2. Set clear, direct boundaries and don’t be afraid to say no 

Even if you’re not a people-pleaser, sometimes it is difficult to say no, even if saying yes creates an inconvenience for you. It’s important to recognise that your needs and work balance take priority, especially if your workload is jam-packed.  

Not only is saying no and setting boundaries an empowering feeling, but it also works much better for you and causes a lot less stress and guilt. Using boundaries will also help you effectively navigate the workplace, avoid potentially toxic environments and create a clear mind to avoid burnout. 

To get started, try to learn more about your personal boundaries and what they are. Life Coach and Author, Dana Gionta, offers a step-by-step guide to assessing your personal boundaries at work: 

  • Know your limits
  • Pay attention to your feelings
  • Give yourself permission to set boundaries
  • Consider and understand your environment

Don't know how assertive you are? Our interactive quick-fire quiz will tell you how assertive you really are in the workplace in just one minute. What are you waiting for? 

3. Use “I” statements 

Using “I” statements instead of “you” statements is a great way to express your needs without sounding like you’re forcing another person to fix something. It’s not about being polite, it’s about being clear on the topic of conversation and it’s an opener to improving and discovering other possibilities you may not have noticed.  

When should you use “I” statements? Here are three examples: 

  1. When we feel others are frustrated with us  
  2. When we need to confront others on their behaviour  
  3. When we feel others are not treating us with respect we deserve  

Using “I” statements requires strong listening skills and focuses on how you refer to behaviour or actions - not the person doing them. This takes away any blame language and helps to hash out any misunderstandings but also express your opinion. 

Not sure where to start? Try phrases like… 

  • “I feel we should consider other options for this.” 
  • “I believe this is the right approach.” 

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4. Use confident body language 

This might sound like an obvious one, but it’s surprising how many employees think they’re giving off positive and confident body language when they’re actually doing the opposite.  

Confident body language doesn’t mean standing in front of your team with your hands on your hips, instead, it means standing tall, shoulders back and relaxed, head up with an unstressed, friendly facial expression.  

Focusing on your body language will make you feel more confident, self-assured and assertive before any words leave your lips.

Related Reading: Why body language is important in communication 

Want to Boost Your Self-Confidence? Look no Further 

There’s no more impactful way to boost your self-confidence than a verbal communications training course. Whether you want to communicate more confidently in the workplace, improve your presentation skills or learn how to speak with greater impact in team meetings. View our range of Confidence & Resilience courses and secure your place

Chloe Martin
Content Editor

2+ years in SEO and content marketing. Striving to help public sector professionals develop their skills and learn something new through high-quality content.