What Assertiveness Looks Like

Some handy hints and tips to build an assertive manner

What Assertiveness Looks Like

Following on from our previous blog post, ‘Improving Your Assertiveness’, we wanted to illustrate what being assertive looks like.

We know it can be daunting to think about if you’re not a naturally assertive person, that’s why we have also included some ‘Dos and Don’ts’ that you can try to incorporate into your everyday life.

Being assertive falls right in the middle of being passive and being aggressive. If you’re passive, you’ll never get to vocalise your needs; if you’re aggressive, you’ll look like a big bully and will likely be misdirecting your frustrations. However, if you’re assertive, you’ll be able to express your desires while respecting the needs of others, and you’ll have a better chance of getting what you want and deserve.

Here are a few scenarios where you can respond in an assertive manner:

Sample Assertive Responses

  • The waiter forgets to place your order and your party waits 45 minutes for your food.

Ask to speak with the manager and explain that you’d like your meal discounted or a free dessert.

  • The hem of your new trousers comes undone during the first washing.

Take it back to the store and request an exchange for a pair that won’t unravel.

  • A neighbour’s dog barks incessantly at all hours of the day and night.

Tell them you would like them to find a way to silence their dog or at least bring it inside at night.

  • Someone cuts in front of you at the store checkout.

Point out that you believe you have been waiting longer and should be next.

  • Someone makes an inappropriate comment that offends or insults you.

Explain how their comment made you feel and ask them to stop talking like that.

  • Your friend suggests a Chinese restaurant, which you hate, for the fourth lunch in a row.

Suggest another place you’d like to go instead and point out that the other place isn’t your favourite.

  • Someone who was supposed to lend you something, or do you a favour, and they forgot about it.

Mention that you know they were probably just busy and failed to think about it, but you really do need (fill in the blank).

  • A customer service employee won’t agree to your reasonable request.

Ask specifically what the company policy is on the issue and whether they, or a manager, can approve an exception, if necessary.

Below are some do’s and dont’s that will hopefully help you feel more assertive.


  • Have good posture and eye contact
  • Take a deep breath and speak confidently
  • Speak slowly and loud enough to be heard
  • Ask for their attention if they aren’t giving it
  • Make your point and state your request
  • Look clean and put together
  • Stop once the problem is corrected
  • Know what it is you want and state that
  • Address the policy or issue itself
  • Remain calm and collected
  • Speak up if something’s important to you
  • Have an opinion and don’t be afraid to voice it
  • Treat the other person with respect at all times


  • Look down or fidget
  • Let your voice shake or crack
  • Speak too fast or quietly
  • Let people brush you off
  • Ramble
  • Look shabby
  • Keep going on about the issue
  • Be vague or wishy-washy
  • Misdirect the blame
  • Be aggressive
  • Remain silent
  • Be a doormat
  • Yell

Assertiveness and humility make a fine combination. An assertive person doesn’t need to shout “Me, me, me, look what I did!” from the rooftops. Assertive people are remembered because they stand firm, their needs and interests are clear to others, and because they are reliable; they also frequently become a form of role model for others seeking to assert themselves effectively. Take this role to heart but don’t boast, big note yourself or become pushy, no matter how clever, popular, or successful you might be.

For more information, please contact the Nightingale Counselling team on 0141 353 9373 or by using the contact form on our Contact page.

“Nightingale Counselling unveils the unrealised potential in each of us for constructive change. After just two hours of coaching, I already began to transcend my old fears, negative beliefs, and limitations of the past. After a few more sessions I took a step in the direction of courage, confidence and self-belief. and unearthed gifts of self-esteem, confidence, fearlessness, positive thinking, visualisation, goal setting, assertiveness, and action plans for the future. Today I am still exploring and discovering new and powerful treasures on my journey with Florence.”

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