Leading modules


Module 6 “Becoming the Best” – Interpersonal Skills

Unit 4: Assertiveness
How to become more assertive

Being assertive can help you to feel better about yourself, improving self-esteem and personal confidence. Sometimes the way we react and respond to others can make us feel inadequate, guilt or regretful. These may be signs of passive behavior. We may also feel angry and critical of others during conversations – this may be a sign of more aggressive behaviours. We will look at these behaviours more in the next sub-unit.

Assertiveness is a complex of skills, behaviour characteristics and body language knowledge. We will now look at this:

  1. Being able to communicate openly and honestly: You can`t be a good communicator without being open and honest. An honest communication is based on trust. If you want to have assertive communication skills, you have to start with being open and honest with your colleagues, co-workers, team members, competitors and everyone around you. If you are a leader or manager, you should always remember that true leaders never play manipulative games or are dishonest and cheat. This involves admitting your mistakes and admitting when you are wrong. An example of communicating honestly and openly is: “I am really sorry but I won`t be able to help you with your project on Monday morning as I have another appointment at that time”. Try to add phrases that show honestly such as: In my experience or personally I wish.
  2. Show respect to others: Respect is absolutely essential for assertive communication. Respect is a key factor in building good relationships. It shows how much you value others. You can show this by:
    • Listening and not interrupting
    • Not only listening but truly trying to understand the other point of view
    • After listening, responding
    • If you don`t understand, ask questions to clarify. It shows you care and are interested
    • Do not judge. Do your best to understand the other person. If someone says something that sounds negative to you, try to understand instead of just passing judgement.
    • Be approachable when someone wants to tell you something and to give you feedback.

    An example of this could be: “We felt disappointed when you were late for the meeting”. This is showing the person that you are open with your feelings instead of showing any anger.

  3. The ability to communicate clearly: The ability to express your thoughts and feelings in a clear way with the right words is crucial in business. If you do not have these assertive communication skills, it can cause miscommunication and misunderstandings. Here are some ways to communicate more clearly:
    • Define your main goal – What are you trying to say.
    • Use short and more direct sentences
    • Listen more than you talk
    • Ask yourself “does what I’m saying make sense?
  4. The ability to control your emotions: Controlling emotions is one of the most challenging goals. The ability to control emotions is one of the most valuable skills that a person can possess in business. When it comes to assertive communication skills it is a must! Here are some tips and ways to control and cope with negative emotions:
    • Think before you react – Stop yourself and look at the situation. Try to look at it an objective way.
    • Find positive things in the situation – It might sound impossible but there are always positive things even when things look really bad.
    • Always look ahead – What`s happened has happened. There is always the future so look forwards
    • Get to know yourself – learn to analyze you own behaviour and emotional changes. Admitting your “bad” feelings means you are ready to take action to change them and do something about it.
    • Use the situation as motivation – See each problem as an opportunity to grow and develop
    • Surround yourself with positive people
    • Take good care of yourself!!!
  5. Being able to admit your mistakes and apologise: This takes courage but admitting you are wrong shows courage, it will show others you are a person who deserves trust and you are taking responsibility for your actions. When admitting you are wrong or apologizing:
    • Use words such that express remorse such as: I’m sorry, I apologise. Be honest!
    • Offer an explanation
    • Offer to correct the mistake
    • Act quickly
    • Assure the person that you will do your best not to repeat the mistake
    • Move on after apologizing

There are many other ways in which to become more assertive such as: body language etc.