• A person with assertive communication skills is able to ask for what they want without becoming angry or aggressive.
  • Assertive Commuication is an excellent way to prevent a person from falling into a behaviour pattern of angry responses.
Assertive Communication

Assertive communication is the ability to ask for what you want without becoming aggressive or belligerent. Very often, being assertive is something we have to learn since it does not come automatically, particularly for individuals who are naturally introverted or agitated. Another factor that can contribute to lack of assertiveness is a reluctance to engage in confrontation.

Is being assertive the same as being aggressive?

Being assertive is not the same as being aggressive. If a person is aggressive, they are often trying to intimidate the other person into doing what they want. Often, this is driven by anger and by poor communication skills.

Being assertive, on the other hand, is about being willing to stand up and ask, firmly, for what you want. It is not driven by anger, but instead by a desire to communicate clearly what your desires are. Here is a comparison between aggressive communication and assertive communication:

Tami is having a problem with subordinate employees not meeting deadlines and she wants them to start adhering to those deadlines.

An Example of Aggressive Communication is:

During a staff meeting Tami appears angry, her face is red, her voice is raised and her hands are balled into fists. “You WILL meet your deadlines or you will be fired! Do you all understand me!” she exclaims.

An Example of Assertive Communication is:

During a staff meeting Tami appears even-tempered, her voice and her mannerisms are calm. She stands in front of the group and speaks in an even yet firm tone of voice: “It has come to my attention that as a group we have been having problems meeting deadlines. Deadlines are set because we are not the only ones affected by your work. So, I need you to all meet the deadlines and adhere to the schedule. If this is a problem or you run into a hiccup, then please let me know well before the deadline so that I can arrange for additional help for you or can make other arrangements. This is really important, folks, and I do not want to have to begin disciplinary consequences for people who aren’t meeting deadlines.” (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

As you can see, both approaches are dynamically different from each other. In the first aggressive example, Tami was out of control and threatening her staff. This approach actually makes them less likely to work with her or to fall right into line to meet their responsibilities. In the second example, Tami uses “I” statements, which acknowledge her own needs, whilst making her requirements clear. She keeps her statements firm, but shows a willingness to help her employees and encourages them to contact her if they are having trouble meeting the deadlines.

Keys to assertive communication

There are several keys to being assertive:

  • Be firm, but do not be angry.
  • Keep your voice calm and low.
  • Take responsibility for what you are asking of the other person – use “I” statements.
  • Be willing to compromise or recognize the other person’s point of view. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

Seeking help for assertive communication

If you believe you would benefit from working with a professional counsellor or psychologist to learn how to be more assertive to help you avoid anry encounters, or you would like to receive further information about our service, please contact us at:

Associated Counselors & Psychologists Sydney

Central Booking Line: (02) 8205 0566

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