What is assertiveness?

Assertiveness is defined as the ability to express yourself in an open, calm and direct way whilst still respecting other. It’s considered to be an important quality in everyday life, from relationships at work or with family and friends. Assertiveness is the middle ground of communicating between a passive style and an aggressive style.



Traits of feeling assertive can be described by the following:

  • You feel confident about yourself
  • You feel entitled to be who you are
  • You express yourself calmly and clearly
  • You believe you are valuable and that so is your time.

People who are assertive are not afraid to defend their points of views, goals or encourage others to see their point of view.

Assertiveness is often associated with higher self-esteem and confidence, it is a quality that can be learnt.

Being assertive can help you control anger, stress and improve coping skills. It’s important to recognise and learn assertive behavior and communication. Without assertiveness, people may allow others to violate their boundaries.

What are common symptoms of low assertiveness?

This can include a variety of negative emotions such as feeling:

  • Low
  • Anxious
  • Irritable
  • Tense


What signs can be seen in people who lack assertiveness?

A person who lacks assertiveness is characterized by various factors:


  • Lack of fluidity when speaking.
  • Stutters
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Feelings that others do not understand them/laugh at them.
  • They’re more concerned about others than about themselves.
  • Feelings of inadequacy.
  • Anxiety
  • Frustration

As a consequence, these symptoms can provoke the loos of self-esteem and respect for others.

What are the causes of lack of assertiveness?

The main causes are a lack of understanding and awareness of what assertivesness is.

Other causes can include: 

  • Being punished often growing up.
  • Not valuing positive feedback.
  • Stressful life events.
  • Having an anxious personality.
  • Low confidence/self-esteem.
  • Learnt behavior.
  • Knowing the appropriate way to respond but feeling ‘frozen’ by anxiety
  • Not knowing or neglecting your rights.
  • Patterns of irrational thoughts.

Can lack of assertiveness be prevented?

There are ways of improving the situation without changing a person’s personality, but changing aspects that help a patient feel better. Therapy is based on a series of techniques of cognitive restructuring, that teach people how to express their feelings, give importance to their beliefs and analyse irrational ideas and try to correct them.

What medical specialists help treat low assertiveness?

Psychologists treat low assertiveness with cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling.

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