How to be assertive without being aggressive

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

can i be assertive without being aggressive?

Just like any other soft skill assertiveness is a skill that can be learned and it's not something that some people are born with.

Assertiveness is based on the concept of not letting go of your rights by not being overly nice and in the same time not being aggressive.

How to be assertive without being aggressive

Assertiveness is sometimes called the art of saying no because some people have developed the bad habit of saying yes all the time even if it goes against their own will. In such a case those people can protect their rights by being assertive without appearing aggressive.

The good news is that assertiveness can be learned by training. Just follow the below guidelines and within few weeks of practice you will turn into an assertive person:

  • Think before you act: Whenever you are asked for a favor stop and think about it first. Put in mind that you are not obligated to do it and that if it goes against your interests then you must say NO. This may not be as easy as it sounds but as the time passes you will get used to it and it will become an easy task
  • Stand up for your rights without being aggressive: Whenever you find that your rights are being violated stand up for them. For example if someone took your turn in a queue then talk to him immediately and tell him something like "hey, am sorry but I came here before you, I know that you may want to go home early but I want that too and that's why i came before you". Its extremely important not to be aggressive while practicing assertiveness so that people don't resist you. If you didn't become assertive then your subconscious mind will record each situation where your rights were violated and then it will make you feel depressed after some time because of them
  • Use I statements to sound more assertive: Use "I" statements. For example " I cant concentrate while that noise is present" or "I don't want to go for a walk now, I prefer to do something else"
  • Use assertive body language: Your
    body language can either support your assertiveness or make you seem like a terrified insecure person who lost his temper. Stand upright with your shoulders stretched, plant both of your feet on the ground, maintain a positive eye contact and don't fold your arms
  • Don't be Aggressive: Finally, don't be aggressive, people will either hate you or resist you if you became aggressive. just be as assertive as you can without showing any signs of aggression

Assertiveness and aggression in relationships

Assertiveness can save your relationship. Many relationships are ruined because some people lack the ability to state their needs and wants assertively.

In my book, The ultimate guide to maintaining a healthy relationship i explained how the lack of assertiveness can lead to frustration. After all if you never talked about the things that bother you then you will become frustrated. This frustration will turn into aggression and you will reach a point where you will tell your partner "I can't take it anymore". Assertiveness can let you avoid all of these problems because it prevents the accumulation of feelings that might lead to frustration.

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