Assertiveness At Work

There’s no escaping it: all relationships, whether personal or professional, are impacted by the quality of their communication.

There are many aspects of communication that lead to its success or failure. Among these are included honesty, openness, clarity, body language, and the focus for today: assertiveness.

We often assume others should and will know what we want. Unfortunately, this isn’t usually the case—especially with those we haven’t spent much time with or have only known professionally.

This simple assumption can lead to a variety of issues in the workplace such as disagreements and grudges, as we find ourselves disappointed or disregarded by co-workers or managers. This could potentially lead to lowered productivity and impaired teamwork.

Assertiveness is the ability to communicate wants and needs in a resolute yet polite and clear way. It means standing up for your rights as a person while also respecting and considering those around you.

Assertiveness is sometimes described as the middle ground between communicating in a manner which is too passive or too aggressive. It’s an effective way to communicate in any environment, especially a team work setting.


It’s easy to be too passive as it’s in our comfort zone to act this way. Sometimes it seems easier to avoid “rocking the boat,” and thus avoid expressing our needs. This may especially be the case for those unaccustomed to voicing their needs or those who are introverted.

Though this might seem more comfortable, there are some consequences to consider:

  • If you are unable to say "no," then it may lead to more work being piled on you than you can handle

  • It may lead to a perceived lack of self-confidence.

  • It may cause others to think you aren’t well suited to leadership.


On the other end of the spectrum, lies the tendency to be too overbearing and aggressive when expressing opinions or desires. These consequences are intuitively more obvious:

  • It may cause others to not like or want to work with you.

  • It may lead to disagreements with co-workers or managers.

  • It also contributes to a negative and stressful work atmosphere.


In the middle is where we want to be!

Assertiveness creates an environment in which everyone is clear on each other’s wants and needs. When all of these are on the table, it’s easier to communicate clearly and compromise if needed.

It ensures that no one feels taken advantage of and ensures that when someone feels overwhelmed with work, they can speak up about it.

Someone who is assertive is respected and perceived as confident!

Assertiveness in practice.

To be assertive in the workplace, consider the following:

  1. Get comfortable giving constructive feedback when it’s appropriate to do so.

  2. Do not hesitate to contribute your own creative ideas in a group setting.

  3. Speak up if you feel that you have been misunderstood.

  4. Express any concerns over unfair workload or practices.

  5. Acknowledge other’s needs as you express your own. Stick up for yourself, but be open to compromise.

It’s up to the whole team to create an environment that is conducive to assertive workers. Encourage each other to voice concerns and offer input.

Assertiveness can pave the way to clear, effective communication: the foundation of all successful professional relationships.