Skip to main content

Importance of assertiveness and how to be assertive

Assertiveness is the skill of expressing how you feel and asking for what you want without being aggressive. It is an ability to defend your rights without hurting those of others.

An assertive person, therefore, is the one who can express his emotions, needs, and opinions to others without being forceful in any way.

An assertive person will not sacrifice his own wants and needs just to please others. This is because an assertive person is usually a self-confident person with a high self-esteem. He does not give much weight to the opinion of others and he doesn't submissively comply with any demand that others make of him if it went against his will.

assertive person
An assertive person tactfully avoids the resistance that he might have otherwise faced by making sure that he places his demands without hurting the other person's ego

What causes non-assertiveness?

It has a lot to do with childhood experiences. If someone in his early childhood was constantly taught to be ‘nice’ in front of others so that they approve of him, then he may not become assertive. Non-assertiveness is primarily caused by the fear of rejection along with the fear of offending others.

That's why non-assertive people try to avoid- if they can- the situations where they may be required to be assertive. A non-assertive person may not ask for his rights because he thinks that it will offend the other person!


If a child who expressed his emotions was discouraged from doing so, then also he may fail to become assertive. Subconsciously, he still thinks that expressing his true emotions is inappropriate behavior that would make people dislike him. Non-assertiveness is, therefore, nothing but learned behavior that can be unlearned.

Why assertiveness is important

Assertiveness is an important personality trait that everyone should develop. Not being assertive may appear to be harmless but in the long run, it can do significant harm to self-esteem and may even cause depression.

We usually feel a little sad and disappointed when we are not assertive because our rights have been violated. However, if this continues for some time, these emotions can get accumulated and make us feel really bad. If you act assertively whenever needed, then you will short-circuit this accumulation of emotions. Also, it will give an important boost to your self-confidence and self-esteem.


Non-assertiveness can lead to frustration because you are constantly failing to safeguard your rights. This constant frustration can cause you to become aggressive. It is very common for a non-assertive person who suppresses his emotions, under the pressure of these accumulated emotions, to suddenly burst into very aggressive behavior.

For instance, Rita was in a relationship with Raj and always had problems with expressing her true emotions because she didn't want to hurt Raj. Whenever she felt that Raj did something wrong that violated her rights, she chose not to tell him about it in order not to risk his disapproval. One day she decided that she just couldn't take it anymore and a small mistake by Raj triggered an avalanche of all the suppressed anger that Rita had towards him.

Needless to say, they got into a severe fight and the relationship ended.

Developing assertiveness

Assertiveness, like any other trait, can be learned by practicing it over and over till it becomes an automatic subconscious response. Never miss any chance of being assertive and over time you will give your subconscious mind enough proofs that you are an assertive person. It may be hard at first and may take time depending on how intensely you were conditioned as a child to be non-assertive.


Popular posts


Body language: Gestures of the head and neck

The head nod
Nodding the head almost everywhere in the world means ‘Yes’ and shaking the head from side to side means ‘No’. A slight head nod is used as a greeting gesture, especially when two people greet each other from a distance. It sends the message, ‘Yes, I acknowledge you’.

Body language: The truth of the pointing foot

When we communicate with others, our attention is focused mainly on the words they speak and the facial expressions they make. We pay little, if any, attention to gestures of the body and when it comes to the feet, we almost never look at them.

Body language: Clenching and clasping of the hands

Clenching hands in front of the body
This gesture has three main positions: hands clenched in front of the face, hands clenched resting on the desk or lap and, while standing, hands clenched over the lower abdomen.

Body language: Hands touching the head

Scratching the hair
When we scratch our hair using one or more fingers anywhere on top, back or side of the head, it signals the emotional state of confusion. Watch any student trying to solve a difficult problem and you are likely to observe this gesture. There isn't a better place to observe this gesture than an exam hall, where students often have no idea what the question paper is trying to say!

Body language: Crossing the arms

Crossing the arms across the chest is a classic gesture of defensiveness. This defensiveness usually manifests as uneasiness, shynessor insecurity.

What makes a person stubborn

Stubbornness is a personality trait in which a person refuses to change his opinion about a situation or refuses to change his mind about the action that he has decided to take.

Body language: Hands touching the neck

Rubbing the back of the neck
Ever seen two furry animals, like dogs, in a fight? If you have then you might have noticed that when they are about to attack each other, the fur over their neck stands on its end and makes the animals appear bigger. The bigger the animals appear the more they are able to intimidate each other.

How our past experiences shape our behavior and personality

Our beliefs and needs are the strongest factors that govern our behavior. Ultimately, it all comes down to beliefs because a need is also a belief- a belief that we lack something.

Body language: The crotch displays of men

When it comes to attraction, males and females use different signals to display their attractive qualities. 

Body language: Crossing the legs

Crossing the legs, like crossing the arms, indicates a defensive attitude. While arm-crossing is a subconscious attempt by a person to protect his vital organs- the heart and the lungs, crossing the legs is an attempt to protect the genitals.