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How to Develop Assertiveness




Assertiveness is a skill that can indeed be acquired over a period of time. If one is unassertive and looking for some magical ways to become assertive overnight, this is not possible. On the other hand, there are people who are overassertive in nature and eventually turn out to be bullies. A person can become a bully due to several factors, including their upbringing.

For any unassertive person to start becoming assertive, the first step involves understanding their current level of assertiveness. Many unassertive people think that it is a heavy weakness, but sometimes that weakness can well be turned into a strong point. Unassertive people should first examine the level of assertiveness that they want to reach.

Unassertive                                                                                         Assertive


Why is Assertiveness Desirable?

These traits can ultimately make a huge difference in our lives. If we are always backing down on things that we believe to be true, this can lead to some serious mental issues, never mind the self-loathing and feelings that one has never reached one’s potential.

Although assertiveness is something that is relatively easy to define, it is not so easy to pin down why people believe it is an important trait. Studies have shown that unassertive people covet assertiveness to handle specific types of situations:

  1. To handle extremely assertive and dominant characters both at the personal level and also at the official level
  2. To stand by a position without yielding to the tactics of aggressive people
  3. To develop the habit of saying “no” in certain situations
  4. To positively convey a message or view without worrying about hurting the feelings of others

Techniques for Developing Assertiveness

There is a difference between learning self-confidence and assertiveness. With assertiveness, we specifically want to have the confidence to face others, state our case, and not feel overly troubled about what others will think of us, or back down simply because we are up against an aggressor. There are simple methods and techniques through which one can develop this skill. These techniques would act as the good starting point for anyone to start developing assertiveness:

1 – Using Proper Facts and Figures

In order to handle people with ultra-aggressive behavior, one has to be smart enough to collect the relevant facts and figures related to a particular topic. This will enable you to counter the overaggressive person by explaining these facts. These figures should be properly collected from authoritative sources, making them hard to refute.

2 – Anticipating Responses and Being Fully Prepared

By visualizing the responses from other people, one can prepare different response statements and choose the one that effectively counters the other person’s statement. In order to do this, one has to thoroughly analyze the behavioral patterns of their opponent and note down their weak areas in advance. The opposing person might feel uncomfortable when shown the correct set of facts and figures. One can also corner the opposing person by posing questions that are difficult for the person to come up with the right answers.

3 – Including a Set of Well Thought Out Questions

One of the effective approaches is to come up with a series of questions that are precise and requires a good answer from the opponent. During the preparation stage, one can plan to include probing questions that would put the aggressive person into an uncomfortable situation. When the person starts to realize that you had come well prepared with all the relevant and important questions, they will start to climb down from their original aggressive stand.

4 – Relying on Inner Strengths

In order to become assertive, one has to have faith in their core areas of strength. Some of the core areas include reliability, consistency, collaborative approach, clear communication, adhering to predefined guidelines and standards, and analyzing in detail. By continuously developing these core areas, one will be able to come up with proper responses and questions that would corner the aggressive person.

5 – Psychological Profiling

One has to approach the aggressor by seeing them for a different perspective. Instead of trying to hate the aggressor, it would be more prudent to show some sympathy to the aggressor. When one starts to show sympathy for the aggressor, one can never be kept down by the tactics adopted by an aggressor.


These are some of the areas that need to be given due focus in order to develop assertiveness.

Assertiveness, when used beyond a certain level, will turn in to bullying tactics. There is a thin line of separation between assertion and aggression, and one has to develop the required competencies to carefully maintain the balance between being assertive and being over-aggressive.

Instead of developing a more aggressive approach, it is more beneficial for the person to develop the skills discussed here for handling people. When one starts to develop an aggressive approach, it becomes counterproductive, escalating the tensions between the two parties.