The Importance of Assertive Communication

    Being assertive is something that many of us struggle with. Whether we fear hurting other people, appearing aggressive or selfish, there are several reasons that impede on our ability to voice our needs. That being said, a lot of the time these fears boil down to a lack of understanding of what assertiveness actually entails.

    For instance, assertiveness is often confused with aggression – as both involve directly expressing our point of view. However, unlike aggressive communication which is hostile and demanding, assertive communication involves expressing our needs in a way that is clearly understood by others without disrespecting their feelings or opinions.


    When we decide to conceal our true feelings and needs, we often succumb to passive communication, a pattern which involves not sharing our needs and failing to protect our rights. Passive communication allows others to take advantage of us and generally leads to misunderstanding and resentment due to unmet needs.

    Scenario: A friend asks to borrow your car however you need it during the week.
    Passive: I don’t know, I guess that is ok. When do you need it?
    Aggressive: No way, that’s ridiculous! Get your own car.
    Assertive: I need my car during the week however you could borrow it on the weekend.

    How to be more assertive

    Assertiveness is one of the most effective methods of communication in today’s world and has many benefits:

    1. Improved communication: being assertive gives you the best chance to successfully deliver your message to someone else. If you are too aggressive, your message is much more likely to be lost by others as they respond to your aggression instead. Similarly, if you are too passive your message is likely to be misunderstood as you are not being honest about what you want.
    2. Increased self-esteem and confidence: by communicating your feelings openly and honestly, you are able to stand up for your rights which naturally bolsters both your self-esteem and confidence.
    3. Better relationships: relationships built on assertive communication are typically based on mutual trust and respect which is important in any relationship, whether personal or work related. Being honest and communicating directly can help eliminate any underlying feelings of resentment in relationships from unmet needs.
    4. Reduced stress: accepting additional commitments and putting your needs on the back burner to please others can place a significant amount of stress on your mind and body. Whilst learning to be more assertive may initially provide some discomfort, knowing you are openly sharing your side whilst considering other people’s feelings too can lead to the best solutions for both parties, and decrease overall stress levels and interpersonal conflicts.

    If you are looking to improve your communication abilities, assertiveness skills training is a great place to start. Although some of these new skills can take time to learn, the outcomes are worthwhile. If you are unsure where to begin, working with a professional is a great place to start. At Positive Mind Works, we have a team of psychologists who can work with you to develop and master assertiveness training techniques and help you feel more confident to stand up for yourself.

    To learn more, call our reception team on 1800 327 477 (AU) / 0800 327 477 (NZ) or click here to book online.