How To Assert Yourself:11 Tips Self-Improvement And Assertiveness

How To Assert Yourself:11 Tips Self-Improvement And Assertiveness

11 Tips On Assertiveness And Self-Improvement

We all have been there. Your boss asks too much of you, and you agree to his or her demands. You cannot stand your neighbor’s loud music deep into the early hours of the morning, yet you say nothing. Get the feeling that these people are walking all over you? And you still don’t do a damn thing! Why? Because you are a nice guy. A go-with-the-flow kinda person who does not want to disturb the order of things, even if those things are unbearable to you.

That feeling of resentment from your neighbor’s dog barking or their loud music at an untimely hour, that feeling is all your fault. You could go and say something about how their behavior is causing you to lose sleep. However, you choose not too, allowing the resentment to build and build, it has to get out in some fashion. If these symptoms sound familiar, you could use a good dose of assertiveness in your life! Please do not confuse this with being an asshole, because that’s not the idea at all!  Being assertive is communicating honestly and directly with those you come into contact with.

Basically, it’s speaking up, while remaining calm, cool and collected when facing a less than comfortable situation or conversation. Assertiveness also means respecting the rights of others, while standing up for what you yourself believe in. It’s walking the line between being pushy and advocating for yourself.

Sometimes this line can be difficult to make out, having been lost in a fog of changing social norms, and new, different ways of communication. I have found some helpful tips to walk this line with a bit more confidence. Here are 11 tips and benefits that come when you decide to be more assertive

  1. Your relationships will improve. The problem with being a “nice guy” are outlined in great detail in Robert A. Glover’s book No More Mr. Nice Guy.  Glover shows us that the reasons for being a nice guy are as important as the outcomes this behavior produces. Some nice guys are just being “nice” because they think it will get them what they want out of a relationship. It’s a tactic. Not a genuine sense of benevolence–they are trying to get something through the process of being agreeable and nice. The plan goes like this; if I am agreeable, than I will get what I want from someone–a spouse, friend or coworker. However, by not being assertive resentment builds, and I have no one to blame but myself. If one person is not getting what he or she needs from a relationship, resentment will build because his/her needs are not being met.

  2. Being assertive is making a statement to the universe that you are in control of your direction in life. You are starting your own ship, moving toward your goals, and it’s your responsibility to assert yourself and see that you make it to your destination. This brings about a self-assuredness: you know you can get what you need when you need it! In turn, your confidence will build, creating a feedback loop that will drive you in the right direction. Choose to be assertive, if for no other reason than it builds your confidence!

  3. You will become a more likable person. I know this sounds a bit odd. But people actually like and respect those who stand of for their beliefs and desires. It’s a respectable quality that also has the advantage of being polarizing. What this means is that you will be able to tell who you want to associate with and who you should avoid by being more assertive. If someone respects your wishes when you stand your ground and does not react badly, then they are probably someone with a good sense of boundaries. This, as we know, is a good quality to search for in those who you associate with. Being assertive will help you weed out the people who are bad for you, and do not have your best interest at heart. This brings me to my next tip of how to set boundaries.

  4. Boundaries are a set of rules you live by that are reflective of your deepest core values. They are what guide you in a moral direction: they are what you believe to be right and wrong. Being assertive means enforcing your boundaries. Often, people who are not assertive have no boundaries, allowing any fucker to walk right over them. To establish boundaries you first have to establish what your values are. This can be done by taking an inventory of what you feel is most important in your life. Make a list, write down what you truly care about, and trace it back to a core value. For example, if you care about your family, and the fact that they are always there for you is very important to you, than one of your core values might be loyalty. By going through this process, you can chart what matters most to you, and build boundaries around these values to protect them in the future.

  5. If you are a “nice guy,”  it’s your fucking problem. It’s your problem you are resentful, bitter and angry, not anyone else’s. It might not be your fault that you are a nice guy, something might have occurred in your childhood that you are unaware of, and had no part in the making. However, you are responsible for fixing yourself. This is your life, no one is going to fix you for you! You have to be the one to own up to the fact that you have an issue with passivity, and take actionable steps towards being a better version of yourself. Sure, you can bitch and expect others to come in a save you, but you will be waiting until the day you die, a bit more resentful to boot! Being assertive means taking ownership for your life, and choosing to exercise responsibility over your problems, finding your own solution to help you move forward.  

  6. Please know that you have nothing to do with the ways others feel or view you as a person. After you assert yourself in a respectful manner, it’s not your problem how others react to this action. For example, if you tell your neighbor he  needs to turn his music down after 10pm, and he gets mad–this is not your fault. You did what you had to do. The responsibility for his emotions rests solely with him, along with how he responds. As a result, he might from a negative perception of you. Again, this is not your fault. DO NOT concern yourself with how others see you. Their opinion of you is often of little importance, most of the time it’s not even relevant to how you live your life.

  7. Just like your neighbor is responsible for his reaction, you are responsible for your assertiveness. Remember you have to take responsibility for the aftermath of your assertiveness.  It’s probably best to choose your battles. If an action taken by someone violates one of your core principles, it might be time to assert yourself. If it is something minor, and the potential consequences outweigh the reward of asserting yourself, do yourself a favor, let it slide!

  8. Stop hiding behind groups and other people when you are trying to address a problem. This is your issue. Own up to it, let the other person know that you do not want to deal with their shit because you have a problem with their actions! Not, we, he, she, they or us–YOU have an issue with them. Let it be known, part of standing up for yourself involves asserting your needs and wants. This can only happen if you make it known that you are the one with the issue. Not being upfront about his is a form of passive behavior. It will lead to resentment, and it will cause you to feel like others are walking all over you.

  9. After you have said it, don’t feel sorry. You have done nothing wrong by asserting your boundaries. There is no need for sorry, or any other form of walking back your demand. Stand fast in your decision: sticking to your guns will reinforce a sense of respect, not only from the other person by from you to yourself. You are standing in the wake of your assertiveness and reinforcing the idea that you are worthy of protecting and speaking up for, even if it is yourself who is doing it!

  10. Keep calm, and use assertivness. There is no need for anger or yelling. Often, these emotional responses will only escalate the problem further. Stay focused on why you are asserting yourself, and how the outcome of your self-representation will go. Remember, it is not your fault how they respond, but it is your responsibility on how you present and frame your disagreement. Try to not be inflammatory, or vulgar. Avoid anything that can quickly escalate the situation such as insults and personal threats. Stay calm and collected and feel good that you are standing up for what you believe in. You’ll be glad you did!

  11. Choose what matters. Picking your battles is key. If you know what your values are, this process will become a whole lot easier. A good way to determine what is worth asserting yourself for and what is not is looking into the future and thinking about how you will feel if you do not take action. Is the outcome of not doing anything acceptable to you? Or would you lose sleep over the incident? If it’s the second choice then take action–assert yourself! There is no one answer that covers all the outcomes.  This is a deeply personal question that you have to answer yourself. It’s worth taking a bit of time to think about what you really value, and what you feel is worthy of your boundaries and protections. It is key to figure out what matters to you. Without knowing what you hold dear, it is impossible to establish clear boundaries, and thus, assert yourself. Being assertive is about knowing who you are, what you want, and what you are willing to defend: not about being an asshole!


Do you want to wander through life not protecting what you hold dear, letting others have their way, and assert their values over yours? Of course you don’t! The hinge on which this door swings is values. You have to establish what you believe and what you think is worthy being assertive over. I urge you to think through what you value. Find out. This will enable you to build some boundaries which you can then protect by being assertive.

If you do not have a direction, it should be of the utmost importance to you. If you do not know where you are going, it is very possible for others to take advantage of you. Being assertive is staking a claim to your life. You are announcing that I have a direction, and I will protect my voyage from  the treachery of those who try to derail me, because I have a path, and I will not deviate from it for your desires.

Find value, and the boundaries will come. Assertiveness will follow. In all honesty, you have nothing to lose though asserting yourself. Some people might not like it, but those are the ones you probably do not want in your life anyway. Overall, being assertive is a great way to increase your confidence, filter for people who are worth having around, and gaining some self-respect.

Follow these steps and you will see noted improvements in your life and relationships. After all, the quality of a good life is being able to accomplish that which you want to see done. Being assertive can definitely help you in your endeavors.


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