By Carmen Garrison Counselor – MS, LPC

How To Be Assertive Without Being a Jerk

“To be passive is to let others decide for you. To be aggressive is to decide for others. To be assertive is to decide for yourself. And to trust that there is enough, that you are enough.”

~ Edith Eva Eger

Albert Ellis Being Assertive Quote
Carmen Garrison

Assertiveness can be challenging.  We do not want to hurt others and we do not want to hurt ourselves. Often we see this as a black and white issue – I’m either too mean or I’m too nice.  

Assertiveness falls on a continuum, with passiveness on one end and aggressiveness on the other.  

In the middle is assertiveness; expressing one’s views in a confident and straight forward manner.  

Let’s look at some ways to incorporate a more assertive approach.  

  1. Value Yourself.

When we believe we have value, we place value on our voice and our opinions. We are less likely to use a passive or aggressive style of communication if we believe what we are saying or expressing has worth.

  1. Less is More.  

Words can cloud what we are truly trying to express.  Words can apologize or intimidate and muddle the message we are trying to send. When thinking about communicating in a assertive way, pause and think of the message you want the other person to hear and state it clearly.  

  1. Practice.

Assertiveness gets stronger with repetition.  We fall into patterns of communication and it takes time, patience, and consistency to make a change.  Watch for opportunities to practice clear, confident communication.   

Assertiveness is possible.  Practicing assertive communication helps our confidence and strengthens our relationships.  It can feel uncomfortable to make a change in one’s communication style.  Practice kindness to yourself as you work on this change.  The ability to be assertive is a gift to yourself and others around you. 

Carmen Garrison Counselor, MS, LPC –

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