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What is Assertiveness Training?

What is assertiveness training?

Assertiveness training is training that will teach you the skills you need, in order to find the, "middle ground", between being too "meek and mild", on the one side, and being too aggressive and rude, on the other side. The middle ground between being "too soft" and "too hard" is what we call, being "assertive".

Assertiveness is a form of communication that allows you to stand your ground and make your conversational points in a confident and clear manner, whilst, at the same time, not coming on too strong.

Assertiveness skills are at their most crucial during face to face communications.

All face to face communications have three aspects.

  • The use of words.
  • The use of voice tones.
  • The use of body language.

Assertiveness is a form of communication, so there must be things to say about:

  • The assertive use of words.
  • The assertive use of voice tones.
  • The assertive use of body language.

Let us talk about each one and write some notes on each.

1. The assertive use of words

The most important thing to say about assertive language is this:

You must know what you want and you must ask for it.

If you don't know what you want in any given context, then you cannot ask for it and you cannot get want you want.
If you know what you want but you cannot make yourself ask for it, then you won't get what you want.

Knowing what you want does not mean knowing what you don't want.
Many people are sure about what they don't want.
They don't want to be poor. They don't want to be sick. They don't want to be ignored.
But knowing only what you don't want does not tell anyone what you do want.
It is not enough to know what you don't want. You must get into the habit of affirmative thinking.
Thinking about what it is exactly that you do want.
Once you have targeted your desires, you must be willing to state them, out loud, to the world.
Don't make demands. State your desires as polite requests.

I suggest you memorise and use the following phrase:


Would you please?

  • Would you please ......... send me the documents so that I might have them before the end of next week?
  • Would you please ......... talk to me using polite language only?
  • Would you please ......... be on time?
  • Would you please ......... give me that which we originally agreed when we signed the contract?

Please don't mistake assertiveness for rudeness or abrasiveness.

Assertive language is also polite language.


Here are the rules again:

  1. Know what you do want
  2. Be prepared to ask for it
  3. Use the phrase, "Would you please........?

2. Assertive voice tones

People judge your emotional state very much by the tone of your voice.

You display your emotions very much by means of changes in voice tones.

  • If you are feeling confident, then it shows in your voice.
  • If you are feeling scared, then it shows in your voice.

So, if you want to be confident and assertive, you can do that by controlling your voice tones.

Assertive voice tones are as follows.

Use a slightly louder volume to your voice

A slightly louder than normal volume implies confidence on the part of the speaker.

Use a slightly deeper voice tone

A slightly deeper tone implies more authority and gravitas, on the part of the speaker.

Use a slightly slower pace of delivery

A slightly slower pace implies thoughtfulness and intelligence on the part of the speaker. i.e., the speaker is thinking about what he, or she, is saying, as opposed to rattling off a quick glib and ill-thought-out response.

3. Assertiveness use of body language

The assertive use of body language is as follows;

Stand or sit up straight

Don't slouch. Don't lean. Stand up straight. Sit up straight.

Look as if you are alert and your mind is active.

That will look more assertive.

Don't point at people

Pointing at people is a mistake. It is not an assertive gesture. It is an angry gesture; it is an aggressive gesture. And aggressive is not the target. Assertive is the target.

  • Don't point your finger.
  • Don't point your pen.
  • Don't make a fist gesture.

Gesticulate by using a palm down, fingers open, below the eye line hand gesture.

Give sufficient eye contact

The eyes are the windows to the soul.

Give sufficient eye contact.

  • Too much eye contact will make you look aggressive and intrusive.
  • Too little eye contact will make you look weak willed.

Give the other person the same amount of eye contact that he is giving to you.

  • If he is glaring at you, then hold his eye.
  • If she is not looking at you, then don't stare at her.

Match and mirror the intensity and duration and frequency of eye contact.

That will make you look "assertive", to the mind and judgment of the other person.

If you want to learn more about assertive communication skills, please follow the link to our communications skills training.

Thank you.

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