Assertiveness: Mastering the art of saying No


Assertiveness: Mastering the art of saying NoDo you ever kick yourself for not speaking up about something? It bothers you so much, it eats away at you and you promise yourself, next time, next time will be different. But next time comes and again something prevents you from speaking up. It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

Assertiveness is valued because it’s an effective way of communicating with people. It helps you get your point across neutrally – you make sense and people respect that. When you can clearly communicate your ideas, you gain the confidence of your audience and yourself.

Assertiveness can be hard to master, though, because there’s a fine line between being assertive and being arrogant. Assertiveness is not taking over the conversation or shutting down people’s ideas. Assertiveness is opening yourself up to new ideas, not being afraid of sharing your own ideas, and contributing to the conversation for the benefit of the group.

People who lack assertiveness skills have a hard time saying no and as a result, take on more tasks than they can handle. Not only does their productivity at work suffer, but so too does life at home. Working longer hours, taking work home, not being there for family all lead to burnout and built-up resentment. Carrying around this resentment can affect your morale and you may experience feelings of victimization and perhaps seething anger.

The good news is you can teach yourself to become more assertive.

Some research even suggests that learning to be more assertive can help people cope with mental health problems, such as depression, anorexia, bulimia, social anxiety disorder and schizophrenia ~ Mayo Clinic.

Many people who appear confident in work situations like meetings have a little trick up their sleeve. They practice what they’re going to say beforehand. They appear more confident because they have a plan. They come off as being more polished because they are – practice makes perfect. So find a friend and practice these techniques to build confidence and assertiveness skills.

Top 3 techniques to build assertiveness

Practice saying – No! With a friend, create scenarios where you find yourself always saying yes and agreeing to everything. Write out scripts if you need to and play out the scene. Practice saying No out loud, in a clear, direct manner until it feels natural.

Remain calm. For some people saying No will cause some deep emotions to surface. You might get really angry or tearful, your voice might quiver and you won’t be able to get the words out. Work at managing your emotional response by practicing deep breathing and calming yourself down before you have to assert yourself and say No. With enough practice, it will become easier and easier.

Refine your tone. If anger and resentment have built up, you might be at the bursting point. Practice what phrases you’ll use when you speak up so you sound assertive rather than aggressive. Instead of saying – You’re wrong! – try – I agree with your first statement, but I’d like to discuss your second point further.

If you’ve always been a passive sort of person, quiet and easy-going, it will take a concentrated effort to assert yourself and gain the confidence you need to speak out. That’s why we recommend consulting with one of our counsellors to learn coping skills and strategies for becoming more assertive. Call 1 866 833-7690 or visit for more options.




Tags: , ,