Assertiveness is an important quality to possess in the professional world, no matter what your career. Here, our Careers and Student Services Manager, Carmen Andreica, tells you what it means to be assertive, and explains the benefits of being so in the workplace.


What is assertiveness?

Assertiveness is about being able to express yourself with confidence, without having to resort to passive aggressive or manipulative behaviour. Assertiveness refers to being open and honest about what you want or need and, at the same time, being considerate of what others want or need. Assertiveness is a quality you should try to acquire before you make your first career move as it helps with development of strong professional relationships. 


Key components of assertiveness

  • Listening and responding to the needs of others without neglecting your own interest or comprising your principles.
  • Using your interpersonal skills to act as an effective communicator, controlling stress through a better handling of problems, people and situations.
  • Expressing your feelings, needs and opinions in an honest, respectful and confident way.
  • Using words, tone of voice, volume, facial expressions, gestures and body language that are suitable to the context.
  • Tackling problems by providing solutions instead of implying personal flaws.
  • Using positive, clear and concise language.
  • Standing up for yourself, making sure your rights are respected and at the same time respecting others’ rights.


Benefits of being assertive

  • Encourages positive thinking and enables you to solve problems and find suitable solutions.
  • Enables a better understanding of personal value and increases self-esteem and confidence.
  • Encourages you to act with fairness, empathy and respect towards others, meaning you should receive the same treatment in return.
  • Brings respect and admiration from people you work with and improves professional relationships.
  • Helps develop honest, powerful and effective communication skills.


Here are some ways you can help to develop your assertiveness:

  • Remember your needs, feelings and thoughts are as important as anyone else’s. Respect yourself and believe you deserve to be treated with respect.
  • Be able to say “no” without feeling guilty.
  • Express negative feelings and thoughts in a polite and respectful manner.
  • Do not become defensive when receiving criticism – instead, view it as a learning experience.
  • Be emphatic when you put your opinion across and understand how the other person is viewing the situation.
  • Create a list of situations where you think you should be more assertive and think about what you would like to say in those instances. When practicing being assertive, start with less tense situations and work up to more difficult ones.