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What is assertiveness and why it is important to be assertive?

What is assertiveness and why it is important to be assertive?
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Assertiveness is a behaviour where the person neither attacks nor submits to other people’s will, but he expresses his believes and defends his rights. That means it is half way between passivity and aggresiveness:

For instance:

  • Aggressive: “This report is badly done, it is unprofessional”
  • Assertive: “This report is missing the sales data for last month”
  • Pasive: “I will accept the report in spite of mistakes

This video also shows some situations that reflect what we are talking about.



The advantages about choosing the assertive option are, primarily:

  • That the other person can’t deny what I’m saying, because I’m talking about my feelings and emotions.
  • It is very likely that the other person questions himself: “¿What has happened?”, or “¿How could I have forgotten to include this data?”, so this implies dialogue.

Many books about assertiveness have been written and many self-help manuals, as today there are a lot of courses and programs to help you practise. Some people believe that assertiveness is something you have or you don´t. Other people think that, as a skill, it is possible to learn it and improve it.

The four principles of assertiveness are:

  1. Use a respectful and kind lenguaje
  2. Use specific examples, don’t generalise
  3. Provide objective and pertinent insights
  4. Don’t judge or attack the others

Being assertive is a very valuable behaviour among negotiatiors, because it multiplies the possibilities of creating dialogue and at the same time it avoids many conflicts. However, assertiveness doesn’t achieve miracles: if the person in front of us is not receptive or if he is unwilling to change his position, we can´t do anything abou it.

And what do you think? Is assertiveness useful when negotiating? Is it possible to train people, or are you simply born with or without it? What have you achieved in your personal and professional life by using assertiveness? Tell us!

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