How to be assertive at work

Being assertive means that you express yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view, while also respecting the rights and beliefs of others. If you struggle to be assertive within the workplace, this can have a detrimental effect on your mental health and wellbeing.

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the lives of everyone in the UK and around the world. Coping with the continuous demands of work whilst trying to liaise with banks or landlords and looking after children and family may become exhausting. Using assertiveness in different areas of your life may help you get through these difficult times.

Here are 5 Tips for being more assertive


Be aware of your body language and tone of voice. Make eye contact as often as possible, and use a tone that is strong, confident and with a sense of purpose. Express your needs and desires in a way that is positive and puts your point across without any emotional conflict. Start sentences with; I feel – I need – I want – I understand.

Know your value. We all have unique skills, qualities and experiences we bring to an organisation. As a human being we take pride and respect ourselves and want others to respect us too, this comes with good self-esteem taking responsibility and knowing your boundaries.

Know your rights: Research and learn your rights at work. Very often people get offended by comments and issues that arise within the workplace and they are not sure what to do or say. Knowing your rights at work gives you a good foundation and structure to start with which helps you feel protected and not alone.

Know the difference between assertive and aggressive. When you are aggressive you try to bulldoze your point across focussing only on your own thoughts and feelings without acknowledging the other person’s feelings and perceptions. Being assertive is also listening and hearing the other person point of view and respecting it even if you do not agree with them. Negotiate and try to find a win-win result where both parties are happy.

Keep practicing. Being assertive takes practice so this will not happen overnight. Understanding your own needs, values and boundaries is a great place to start.

For further details and tips on how to be assertive see:

Antonia Mathurin, Employment Specialist

Antonia has worked in education, training and employment for 12 years. She is an accredited coach and has a qualification in Career Guidance and Development. When not at work, Antonia enjoys to swim, travel, and watch live music.