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How do you really make yourself more assertive?

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Question: "I've heard many times from colleagues and people close to me that I'm just not assertive enough to really get ahead and achieve the things I want. But this is the way I've been all my life and I'm not sure I can change. Does anyone know some good first steps to try?" - Mercedes, Fashion Assistant

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara November 3, 2016 at 4:57 pm

I’m an introvert and definitely not ‘assertive’. Yet I was once accused of being the ‘boss’ pet’ because I ‘got’ everything I wanted. It disturbed me enough to ask my boss about it. His comment was that I ‘got’ everything I asked for because I always presented a rock solid, well thought out case making it hard to justify a ‘no’ from him. There are many paths to achieve the results you are aiming for. Work with your strengths. I agree with Tara – don’t accept other people’s definition of ‘assertive’. There are a lot of ‘assertive’ people around who have no substance, and a lot of ‘non-assertive’ people who get things done.


TERESA October 31, 2016 at 4:05 pm

First, take a hard look at who’s telling you you’re not assertive enough. If you still consider their “opinion” valid, make a list of what you want. Then pair that list down to 1 or 2 priorities. Think about if what you “need” is actually a “want”. Your “need” should be something that will definitely enhance your job position within your organization and favor the bottom line. Your “need” could equally be something that will secure your future with the company for years to come. Research all possible areas of concern and be ready with hard facts to questions asked. Put yourself in a position of making an offer they can’t refuse. Be prepared to still get refused though… but keep trying by bringing new ideas or outcomes to table when received; further your claim at every turn. You’re only failure would be if you stopped trying.


Paula October 21, 2016 at 2:34 pm

Usually when someone says “I’ve always been this way and I can’t change”, it means they don’t want to change. Is it truly important to you to make this change, or is it that others are saying something? Are you content doing what you do? Are you happy in your own skin? Then don’t worry about other people’s opinion. If you really do want to change, then start with something small, speak up when it’s scary, try something you’ve never done before but have wanted to. Watch someone who does “assertive” well and emulate them. Good luck.


Paula October 21, 2016 at 2:19 pm

Usually, when someone says “this is the way I’ve always been and I can’t change”, what they mean is this isn’t important enough for me to make any changes. As some of the people above have stated, if it’s important to you, you’ll find a way to make adjustments. Start small and work your way up to the big, important things. It seems as though you’re okay with not being assertive, but the thing that’s more important to you is that people are thinking that about you. It’s okay to be comfortable in your own skin. Are you doing what you love? Are you content? Don’t worry about other people’s opinions. Get comfortable in your own space and own it.


Lynn October 20, 2016 at 4:44 pm

What do you want to be assertive about? That really is the number one question. When you can nail down what your goals are, then you can work toward getting them.
Do you want a promotion? Who can mentor you to get there?
Do you want an increase in pay? Right. We all do. But talk with your supervisor. There may be ways to get what you want.
Start with something “small,” like wanting a new pair of shoes. You go to the shoe store, and talk with the sales clerk as soon as you walk in the door. You don’t go to the area that has your shoe size first. Describe what you’re looking for, and let them show you what they have available. Be assertive, not pushy.
Try it. Confidence builds on itself. :)


Tari Tibbits October 20, 2016 at 4:23 pm

I believe my first question would be what do you REALLY want? I too struggle with assertiveness, but not with the things that are most important to me. Are you really not assertive enough (based on their standards) or are you content with life? I think sometimes we accept what others say even though deep down we really want what we already have. There is nothing wrong with that, it’s a place many people never achieve. That said, if you REALLY want something that you don’t have, then you need courage, not assertiveness. Courage to ask, courage to accept no, courage to possibly need to find another position, courage to speak in a diplomatic way what you really think. Courage isn’t pushy, or rude, or disrespectful. Courage is a quiet confidence in what is true and actions upon that truth.


Lynn Picott October 20, 2016 at 4:00 pm

I schedule one-on-one time with the executives to get to know their goals and let them know mine. In a private setting, you will feel you are heard and have individual attention. Believe me, they will remember you taking the initiative to do that! Each time you do it, you become stronger and more confident to assert yourself when appropriate!


Mark October 20, 2016 at 2:04 pm

There are many books on the subject. If you go to amazon.com, click All and select Books in the category listing, and then type “assertiveness” in the search box, there will be literally thousands of results. I would suggest paying attention to the star ratings, and look at the books that have four or five stars and have been rated by a few hundred people. (The number next to the starts tells you how many people rated that book.) The reason I suggest this is because I would rather read a book that 450 people rated a 4 than a book that 3 people rated a 5. As you click each book, it will summarize what it is about, and you can read the individual comments towards the bottom of that book’s listing.


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