Being assertive, how do you do that?
Being assertive, how do you do that?

Imagine this: you are going away for the weekend with your family. You have planned this months ago and you look forward to recover from all the working overtime and enjoying nature with your children and partner. “Ring Ring!” Your phone rings. It is your boss who tells you there is a new assignment, which really needs to be completed this weekend. Your boss has no time for it himself and asks you to work this weekend. You actually don’t feel like it at all. You have worked a lot overtime the past few weeks. What do you say to your boss?

Do you dare to tell your boss in a direct and respectful way that you cannot work this weekend? If so, then you have mastered a skill that many people find difficult: assertiveness. But do you find it difficult to stand up for yourself in situations like this? These tips can help you!

What is assertiveness?

Assertiveness is a way of communicating whereby you take into account your own interests, but also the interests of the other. It means that you express your thoughts and feelings in a direct and respectful way.

If you only take your own interests into account and ignore the interests of the other, you respond aggressively. For example: “No way! I’ve made enough overtime in the last few weeks, find someone else! “

On the other hand: if you only consider the interests of the other and you forget your own interests, then you respond sub-assertively. You agree with the request while you actually do not want to. That doesn’t feel nice.

How do you communicate assertively? Here are some tips.

Speak from the ‘I-form’ 

By speaking from the I-form you take ownership and responsibility for your feelings, thoughts and behavior. Therefore your story does not come across as an attack on the other, which means that he / she does not take a defensive position and is more open to what you have to say.


Try to sincerely relate to the other, to understand how he / she views the situation. This means that you listen to understand and not just to respond. After you have considered the perspective of the other, you can express what you need from the other. This is how it goes: “I understand that this is a difficult situation and that you want to deliver the assignment on time, but I would like to keep this weekend free for my family.”

Ask for more time

Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed by a request, you just not know what you want or you are  just too emotional to communicate in a healthy way. In this case it is best to be honest. Ask more time to gather your thoughts. Say this for example: “I find it difficult to answer this now. Can I call you back in half an hour? ”

Write it down

Do you find it difficult to respond assertively “on the spot”? Then the tip is to write down your answers. This is works, for example, in combination with the tip to ask for more time. It is useful to think up and write down the following parts in advance:

  1. The event: describe how you view the situation;
  2. Your feelings: describe how it makes you feel;
  3. What you need: tell the other person exactly what you need from him / her;
  4. The consequences: describe the positive consequences for the other person, your relationship or the company if he / she accepts your request.

Your response to your boss’s request may look like this: “You asked me to work this weekend because of a large assignment that needs to be completed this weekend. But on the same weekend I want to take a break with my family. I find this a difficult situation, but I find that I need rest and time with my family. That way I can continue to perform well at work. “

NiceDay promotion

Do you want to practice your assertiveness? The NiceDay app can help you. Write this assignment in your diary or ask your coach for help. And don’t forget: as with many things in life, it comes down to practice, practice, practice!

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Hi! My name is Jolvie. I work as a psychologist with the NiceDay app. In my spare time I enjoy traveling, enjoying nature and I have an active lifestyle!

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