How To Be Assertive - without feeling bad about it!

Assertiveness needn't be scary - it's only about expressing your personal viewpoint, preferences and boundaries

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Perhaps like many other people, you think that assertiveness means being stroppy, aggressive, awkward or bossy.

If you're a withdrawn or shy person, and too accommodating to other people's needs, then the thought of being more visible and vocal might feel strange and even frightening to you.

Assertiveness is not about being either aggressive or passive.

It's about -

  • Feeling OK in your own skin and knowing that you have the right and responsibility to determine your own path in life, and to be treated with respect by others.

  • Stating your perception, thoughts, feelings, wants and needs in a clear and concise way.

  • Sharing your perspective and clarifying your boundaries about what is OK with you and what isn't.

  • Deciding what is best for you and expressing that without having to justify it to anyone.

  • Asking for more information, clarity and help when you need it.

  • It also includes changing your mind, asking for more time to complete a project, and asking for what you know you rightly deserve.

The process of assertiveness is:

  1. A situation or event

  2. Your inner self-talk about it

  3. Your feelings and body sensations which accompany that self-talk

  4. Your chosen response and behaviour

A basic framework for behaving assertively includes:

  • Start with the word 'I', and speak from your own point of view - such as I wonder, I'm curious, I'm confused.

  • Stating what you see and hear (your perceptions)

  • Sharing what you're thinking and feeling about that

  • Adding what you're imagining this all means (this is VERY important!) 

  • How this then makes you feel

  • Clearly stating what you want and prefer to happen instead

The power of this structure is that no-one can deny what you are perceiving, thinking, imagining, feeling or preferring. Nor can they say that you're wrong.

 You are simply stating your own truth and perspective.

You are saying 'this is what's going on for me and I'm sharing that with you'.

Assertiveness is very empowering, and a way of speaking up for the rights of the adult you are now, as well as the young child inside you who perhaps couldn't be assertive in the past.

Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR – Helping women to make peace with the past and to stop allowing an unhappy or abusive childhood from influencing their present and future. There's a page of FREE RESOURCES, self-help guides/courses, and Recovery From Toxic Parents coaching programmes. - Therapeutic self-development mentoring for women who want to understand and manage their emotions, boundaries and FEEL better, so they can BE, DO and HAVE better! -10 online self-help workshops of Psycho-Emotional-Education - to help you to understand and manage different aspects of you life - A new paradigm in therapy - to review and revise your sub-conscious belief system and S.C.R.I.P.T.(c) ... Sub-Conscious-Rules-Influencing-Present-Time

Maxine Harley

MIND HEALER & MENTOR - Psychotherapist (MSc), Author, Columnist & Blogger. Please see and, S.E.L.E.C.T. Your Life Company Ltd.

I help women to FEEL better - so they can BE, DO and HAVE better! As a MIND HEALER I specialise in helping women to recover from a troubled childhood and toxic parents, to heal and transcend their emotional wounds, re-parent their inner child, and make peace with their past. This enables and empowers them to become better parents, partners, professionals - and all round happier calmer people :-) As a MENTOR I offer different levels of therapeutic self development - including MINDING YOUR BUSINESS, MINDING THE GAP, and MIND MASTERY...please discover more at


Go to the profile of Jen Weston
almost 4 years ago

I really enjoyed reading this article Maxine. I'm a psychologist from Lancashire and I sometimes struggle to be assertive without coming across as stroppy (not with clients, this is with friends or on social media mostly) so I tend not to say anything or get involved in debates etc. 

I think the tips about including 'I think....' is a really good way to go for me because I tend to chuck out more factual information or makw my opinions sound like facts which is where I go wrong. That's the evidence-based psychologist coming out for sure. 

I'm going to try these tips in the future and see if it makes a difference. Thank you. It would be awesome to make contact and chat at somepoint. 


Go to the profile of Maxine Harley
almost 4 years ago

Hello Jen,

Thanks for your positive comments and taking the time to post them here - I really do appreciate that.

I'm glad that you've found something helpful in the article that you can now put into practice... and reap the rewards!

Warmly, Maxine