How to Be More Assertive at Your Job

by Christian Fisher

Assertiveness at work can compel people to believe in your talent and follow your lead. It can generate more rewarding results than passivity or aggression in various business settings. Being assertive requires having equal respect for yourself and others in the workplace. Knowing your style and refining it with practice can improve your skill at voicing your input, making suggestions and asking for what you need.

Taking Charge

Getting to know your co-workers a little better, by such things as taking up invites to join others after work or inviting others to the occasional lunch, builds two-way respect and helps you feel more comfortable. Listening to your co-workers’ communication styles can help you adjust your own style when talking to certain individuals. Helping managers and co-workers can strengthen relationships and should make it easier to request help when you need it. Timing plays a role in asking for what you need. For example, finding a time during the day when your manager is in a good mood could be ideal for asking for a personal day off or about being a part of a project you want in on.

Starting Small

Setting small goals for what you want to accomplish in any meeting can help you be more assertive. Knowing what you want gives you something by which to guide your behavior and communication style, suggests Amy Gallo in her August 2012 “Harvard Business Review” blog article entitled “How to Be Assertive (Without Losing Yourself).” When disagreeing with someone, making it about your concerns rather than the other person is more assertive. For example, you might say, “I don’t understand” rather than “You’re not making sense.” You may even enlist a more assertive friend or trusted co-worker to model after, encourage you, or help you practice improving your own communication.


Shyness or getting tongue-tied might interfere with you in the moment when you want to be more assertive. Rehearsing what you want to say, or even writing your thoughts before going into a meeting, may help you articulate yourself, according to the Mayo Clinic. Rehearsal may especially help when you’re risking being rejected or upsetting someone because of what you need to say. Being more assertive requires you to expect, and deal with, push-back from others. Rehearsal can help you stay calm and present your case.


Assertiveness is a leadership quality that can be developed whether you’re an employee or manager, says Jacquelyn Smith in her March 2012 “Forbes” article “How to Be More Confident at Work.” Keeping a written record of your successes at being more assertive can also boost your confidence, according to Smith. You can look back on that record at times when you doubt yourself, which may help you develop more supportive self-talk that boosts your resilience. Additionally, taking on tasks that challenge you slightly beyond what’s comfortable can elevate your baseline of assertiveness and self-confidence over time.

About the Author

A writer since 1995, Christian Fisher is an author specializing in personal empowerment and professional success. From 2000 to 2005, he wrote true stories of human triumph for "Woman's World" magazine. Since 2004, he has also helped launch businesses including a music licensing company and a music school.

Photo Credits

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