Assertiveness Skills: Definition, Examples and Tips

Updated February 3, 2023

A group of four people stand around one person who points to a diagram on a wall.

Being assertive in the workplace means having a confident, respectful demeanor that allows you to communicate well with others. Having productive and positive interactions at work may lead to effective team building, leadership and collaboration. You might find it helpful to develop your assertiveness skills if you want to better communicate your needs and improve your self-esteem at work.

In this article, we provide examples of assertiveness skills, discuss how you can improve them, share tips for developing these skills in the workplace and explain how to highlight them during your job search.

What are assertiveness skills?

Assertiveness skills are communication strategies that allow you to convey information and ideas in an open and direct way while maintaining respect for the people to whom you're speaking.

Assertiveness allows you to explain your claims and decisions in a calm and confident manner. Assertive communication is ideal for many workplace communications because it can help team members resolve issues and create a more positive work environment.

Related: Tips for How To Be Assertive at Work

Examples of assertiveness skills

When you're being assertive, you may be able to convey messages or ideas successfully. Here are some examples of assertiveness skills:


It's important to be respectful when you're asserting yourself. This means sharing your thoughts and feelings while showing consideration for others. You can offer respect by listening patiently to others' opinions, carefully considering their viewpoints and recognizing the validity of their thoughts, even when they're different from your own.

Read more: What Is Respect in the Workplace?


Assertive communication is open and honest, meaning you readily answer questions, offer all relevant information and provide supporting details as requested. This may involve sharing your research with others on your team or offering your opinions when asked.

This also means providing your thoughts when it's appropriate. Honesty and integrity are necessary for direct and accurate communication in the workplace.

Related: How To Be Transparent in the Workplace


Being assertive may involve defending your own rights and the rights of others. This can also mean taking personal responsibility for your actions and staying accountable for what you've said or done. For instance, you may tell others when a workplace error results from your miscalculations, then lead the team's efforts to remedy the issue.

Read more: Accountability in the Workplace: Importance and Tips for Improving It


Self-control allows you to maintain assertiveness in a calm and respectful way. Having self-control can help you communicate your thoughts while remaining aware of other people's feelings and reactions. When confronted with an unhappy client, for example, self-control can enable you to respond patiently and politely so that you can resolve the issue in the best way possible.

Related: What Are Self-Regulations Skills? (And How To Improve Them)

How to improve assertiveness skills

Assertiveness skills can equip employees to communicate clearly and maintain positive professional relationships with those around them. Here are some steps you can take to develop your assertiveness skills:

1. Assess your personal communication style

To improve your assertiveness, start by assessing your current style of communication. Consider whether you express yourself openly at work and whether you offer and accept feedback often. Recognizing opportunities for improvement can help you determine where or when to practice being more assertive.

Related: Q&A: What Is Assertive Communication?

2. Practice your delivery

It's helpful to practice important communications ahead of time with a friend or coworker to make sure your message is both direct and respectful. You can ask for feedback to improve your delivery for future interactions. Practicing common interactions may prepare you to respond effectively when you face them at work.

Related: What Is Assertiveness Training? Definition, Benefits and Steps

3. Share your thoughts

It's important to provide your opinions and ideas openly so you're contributing to workplace discussions. When you have a thought or proposal that you believe could be useful, consider sharing it with your coworkers or managers. This can help you develop the confidence to share your viewpoint more regularly.

4. Maintain control of your emotions

Try to stay calm during confrontations by practicing even breathing and keeping your voice steady. You can also implement stress management techniques outside of work, such as regular workouts, meditation or journaling, to help you maintain a peaceful demeanor. Controlling your emotions can lead to more productive conversations in which everyone can share their ideas freely.

Related: Complete Guide to Nonverbal Communication in the Workplace

Assertiveness skills in the workplace

Assertive individuals in the workplace are often strong communicators and leaders. Developing assertiveness techniques may improve your workplace performance and help you communicate effectively in work situations. Here are some tips for acting more assertively at your job:

  • Set professional boundaries. You can maintain a healthy work-life balance by knowing what a manageable workload is for you and only accepting projects within those boundaries.

  • Listen politely. Assertive communication involves not only speaking but also listening politely. Practice focusing on others so you can offer a respectful response to their thoughts.

  • Make clear, detailed requests. Your statements and questions should be clear and direct. Before you conclude a conversation, make sure others understand your expectations, such as any important deadlines they should meet.

  • Seek opportunities for collaboration. Working cooperatively with others is an essential part of assertive communication. Look for efficient ways to delegate tasks to others and opportunities to complete project tasks you can perform effectively.

Read more: Assertiveness in the Workplace: Pros, Cons and How To Be More Assertive

How to highlight assertiveness skills

Here are some ways to showcase your ability to communicate assertively as you're seeking employment:

Assertiveness skills for the resume and cover letter

You can highlight your assertiveness on your resume by including relevant abilities or qualities in the skills section, such as self-motivation and active listening. When describing your job responsibilities in your cover letter, try to emphasize ways you've acted assertively in previous positions.

Mention any times when you've worked in a leadership role, assigned tasks to others or resolved disputes. Hiring managers might recognize assertive candidates from their ability to write confidently about their accomplishments.

Here's a list of assertiveness skills you can include on your resume or cover letter:

  • Verbal and written communication

  • Leadership

  • Conflict management

  • Collaboration

  • Problem-solving

  • Team-building

Related: How To Write a Resume Employers Will Notice

Assertiveness skills for the job interview

During an interview, you can show your assertiveness by being clear and direct about your work experience and expectations for the job to which you're applying. Speak openly about your past achievements and challenges and answer the interviewer's questions calmly. When discussing conflicts, try to validate both sides of the situation before explaining how you resolved it.

A firm handshake and a pleasant demeanor can also demonstrate your assertiveness. You may find it helpful to practice with a friend or family member to make sure you're speaking and presenting your qualifications in a way that's polite and easy to understand.

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