Do you have a shy or anxious child who is easily persuaded, teased, or bullied by others? Maybe you struggle with anger management? Perhaps, you feel like you are walking on eggshells and unable to really connect with your partner.

It seems like assertiveness is often misconstrued as aggressive or opinionated. So how do you know the difference? Learning ways to assert yourself can go a long way in relationships.

So, what is assertiveness? Typically, assertiveness means communicating your feelings, needs, wants, and desires in a clear and respectful manner. Whereas aggressive communication involves conveying your feelings, needs, wants, and desires in a threatening, demeaning, intimidating, and shaming way.

Below are some assertive communication tips!

  1. Identify your own feelings, needs, wants, wishes, boundaries etc.

    • This step may be difficult for some people.

      • For kids, looking at a feelings chart may help.

      • Talk with your child about feelings (e.g., happy, sad, scare, shame, guilt, fear, anger, etc.).

      • Think about what your personal, emotional, physical boundaries are. These might be different from person to person.

      • Sometimes writing or drawing can help you know how you are feeling.

  2. Identify the situation or person denying or violating your feelings, needs, wants, wishes, or boundaries. It may be helpful to talk about this with a trusted or neutral person beforehand.

  3. Once you are ready, clearly state your feelings about to the person who is denying/violating your feelings, needs, wants, wishes, or boundaries. This is so much easier said, than done.

    • Practice out loud by yourself.

    • Say it with a trusted friend.

    • Rehearse in front of a mirror.

  4. Communicate these to someone using “I” statements. People tend to be quick to say, “You did _________ or made me feel .” These statements typically assign blame and place someone on the defense. Therefore, talk about you and your feelings, needs, wants, and desires.

    • Example: I feel scared when you raise your voice or slam the door.

  5. Remember communication is a two-way street. Don’t give up when you feel it did not work. Continue to learn, hone, and practice assertiveness tips in your relationships. Then watch and observe.

Arianna Boddy