How to be assertive without being arrogant

A person who wants to experience her true self, a person who wants to get rid of all deception, and one who wants to have a sense of inner liberation, be actualized, be determined, and discover herself would benefit from learning to respect and express herself.

In order to learn self respect, one needs to learn her boundaries. A boundless human being is continuously feeling taken advantage of and such a person usually projects that by taking advantage of others. Assertiveness is a tool for building boundaries and learning to express oneself openly, honestly, fairly, and respectfully.

There are basically three types of behavioral patterns that people use to relate to each other: Aggressive, passive and assertive. Aggression is related to dominance, wanting to take advantage of others and crossing other people’s boundaries. Aggressiveness happens when
one expresses her rights at the expense, deprivation or embarrassment of another. Aggression can become emotionally or physically vigorous, not allowing the other person’s rights to surface.

The second category is passivity, which is submission to, and being invaded and devalued by
others. Passivity happens when a person submits to another’s dominant behavior, putting her own wishes and desires aside to pay attention to fulfilling the wishes and desires of the dominant partner without having a sense of internal satisfaction.

The third category is assertiveness, which is the balanced form of the above two.
Assertiveness is the ability for self-expression in healthy ways without violating the rights of others and crossing their boundaries. Assertiveness is a straight, open, and sincere form of communication, which helps the individual feel a sense of self-enhancement, self-expression and self-confidence. It also helps one to receive and give more respect. Expressing one’s thoughts and feelings in a way that clearly communicates the person’s needs and intentions is a great way for a person to experience her true self.

In order to be able to get assertive, we must learn about and value our authentic selves. Being assertive is different than being selfish. Acting in selfish ways means that one is violating the rights of others and is satisfying her needs at the expense of other people, without their approval. When we learn to express our true self, we learn to take steps toward self liberation. A free and liberated self does not imply a person who has no boundaries and lacks

On the other hand, self-discipline is essential for a contented life, and a contented life is fundamental to a person seeking self-liberation. Self liberation is an inner feeling not an outer behavior. To get to an internal sense of freedom, we need to learn how to control our thoughts, behaviors and how to acknowledge our emotions. We also need to have boundaries and make sure it is valued. A boundary-less human can turn into a perplexed being who feels continuously confused, overwhelmed, and stressed.

We need to learn to improve our self esteem to be able to feel valued enough to express ourselves. Healthy self esteem is not something we can read about and learn. We need to put it into practice. The more we practice, the more we gain. First and foremost, we need to learn to have meaningful goals that match our abilities and interest. It does not matter how small or how big as long as they are reasonable and we are making progress with them. When we move toward our goals and accomplish them, we are nourishing the seed of self esteem. The goal should be personal, relevant to our own unique personality, capabilities and limitations.

We all have something we are good at. We need to find that and start its growth process. We need to stop comparing ourselves with others, the grass is always greener when seen from the distance. It is simply unfair to compare ourselves with others since we only see a facade of what others hold. Whether it is a TV image, a girlfriend that seems to have it all, or a co-worker who seems like a genius, we are not seeing the whole picture. We can observe others and learn from them, but we need to stop wanting to be like others.

The question should be: “How much improvement did I make since last year, month, week. ?” That is a good way to measure success. If we are moving forward, we are doing a great job and should start feeling content with it. And you may want to consider that we are physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual beings and we need to measure success in all areas and their growth. If one area grows and not the other, it may create conflict. We also need to learn how to respect ourselves; only a person who learns self respect, can give respect to others. The definition of respect is a personal one, and we need to figure out what it means for us to feel respected. Once we figure it out, we can start implementing.

Like many therapists and coaches across the world, I advocate that a good step towards a happier life comes from letting go of fear and learning to love oneself.

Self-love truly is the answer to many of life’s problems.

Self-love truly is the answer to many of life’s challenges. However sometimes when I suggest this idea to my clients they tell me:

‘But wouldn’t loving myself make me conceited and arrogant?’

It’s a common misconception. But the truth is that arrogance doesn’t come from loving oneself, it comes from not loving oneself.

When we forget to love ourselves we get into the habit of seeking validation from others instead. We can end up trying so hard to prove ourselves as good enough that we end up looking arrogant.

How to Stop Comparing Yourself With Others

Of course, we can’t help but make some comparisons between ourselves and others. It’s only human nature to do so because life is all about contrasts and differences.

But when we’re often thinking “I’m better than you/you’re better than me” that’s not helpful because we’re not giving ourselves the feeling of being good enough just as we are. It’s coming from a place of fear.

Once we start providing that validation for ourselves there’s really no need to compare ourselves against others–it’s just us, accepting ourselves as we are.
Loving yourself can never make you arrogant or conceited – just the opposite in fact because it makes you feel worthy and confident, so there’s no need to make comparisons with others.

Five steps for being assertive without being aggressive

Posted December 21, 2019 | Reviewed by Lybi Ma


  • What Is Assertiveness?
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How to be assertive without being arrogant

People often tell me they admire my courage to demand what I need. I don’t see it as courage. I see it as being clear and direct about what I need to do my work and support my health.

There seems to be a misunderstanding between what is being polite and what is taking care of yourself. This varies by location, culture, and upbringing, but I experience some level of this conflict everywhere in the world I travel and teach.

Most people learn to alter their self-expression in accordance with their society’s expectations. Often, these rules are outdated, passed down through generations without much thought to how they relate to success in today’s world.

In addition to assimilating what is supposed to be correct self-expression, we fear how others might judge us if we declare what we think and define what we believe is necessary. The judgment of “too assertive” is often placed on women and subordinates. Labels like “self-serving,” “egotistic” and “insensitive” are given when we state our opinions and attempt to take care of ourselves.

The fear of judgment holds us back from being open and honest in our self-expression. Clinical psychologist and coach Lloyd Thomas says when we are inhibited in our self-expression, “We remain dependent and helpless in our self-care. We may even become ill.”¹

Being aggressive is different from being assertive. Aggressiveness has a punishing tone; your requests or opinions have the intention of making others wrong. Your desire is to be better, put them in their place, or demonstrate you have more of something than they have, such as wanting to show you have more knowledge, power, or privilege than others do.

You can be assertive without being aggressive by not attacking anybody else. When you are being assertive, you are standing up for yourself and what you believe.

I have experienced difficult lessons that have taught me the distinction between being aggressive and being assertive with my requests. The following five steps combine academic knowledge with hard-learned lessons to help you be successful and healthy without hurting others. Use these five practices to be clear and direct when expressing your needs and ideas:

  1. Concisely state what you want and be willing to repeat your request when you hear excuses. Ask repetitively and firmly for what you want to have or create. Let others know you heard what they said and then ask what it would take to change or if they would be willing to explore a different solution. For example: “I know your standard practice is ____, and I still need a larger room. What will it take for you to get me what I need?” Or, “I understand that you believe you have solved this problem before. I see new variables this time and think we should try a different approach. Would you be willing to hear my suggestion and then see if we can negotiate a way forward?” Repeat the request until you get a positive response even if it is reluctantly given.
  2. Repeat your understanding of the other’s point of view. Example: “I understand you feel badly about letting the person go. We need the right people to act wisely and swiftly and with the right attitude to make the changes we need to succeed going forward. To ensure we have the best team, I need you to have this conversation. What date can you set to make this happen?” Or, “I know you are wanting to help by telling me I need these supplements but I don’t agree. Let’s move on to a new topic.”
  3. Offer solutions to problems. Don’t just complain. State what you need to solve your dilemma or offer an idea that could resolve the bigger issue. Example: “I know it is ritual for everyone to go to dinner after the event, but my evenings end by 8pm. I would like to start dinner earlier. Can we work this out?” Make your request and confidently stand in the silence. Others may have to override their old opinions before they are open to work with you.
  4. Avoid believing your ideas or feelings are more important than theirs. You are stating your needs and ideas cleanly without arrogance. They have reason to believe they are right. If you are persistent, they should consider your request but this won’t always happen. If you reach a stalemate, know if you need to walk away or if you can acknowledge their position and offer a compromise.
  5. Ignore if they criticize your assertiveness. Discard it without apology. You are exerting your right to express yourself. Even if they refuse, you can walk away knowing you stood up for yourself.

Don’t hold yourself back from stating what you want and offering your ideas. You may be judged as aggressive but you cannot fulfill your potential when you hold yourself back. Regretting what you did not do is more difficult to bear than being disappointed when you don’t get what you want. You can move beyond disappointment. You can’t redo what you regret.

Being assertive is gold, it gives you career growth as well as productivity at work. However, some people are over-assertive and end up becoming arrogant or disrespectful. Here is how to be assertive without being arrogant:

Use a conversational tone
Ali Male, a counselling psychologist, notes that it is important for you to use a conversational tone, a calm though bold tone. When you use a high or loud tone, it could be interpreted as arrogance.
“Some people think speaking on top of their voices is being assertive, it instead makes the recipient think you are rude or disrespectful, it’s better to keep a low tone when discussing with your bosses or colleagues,” he adds.

Adopted use of open expressions
He says mind the way you express yourself while talking – our non verbal cues might be interpreted differently.
He says you should communicate without crossing arms or throwing them around aimlessly. In your communication, respect people around you and yourself.
Apologise where necessary
Boniface Wanja, a company director, notes that most assertive people think they are right all the time therefore may not apologise when they are wrong.
“It’s important to ask for forgiveness when you go wrong so that people can love to work with you.
You can not be right all the time. It is also important that you learn to give people time to express themselves other than interrupting conversations.
“An assertive person should be a good listener,” he adds.
Be respectful
Mary Namukose, the director of Darfur Ltd, notes that as you don’t want your rules and rights violated, don’t violate those of others.
She advises that you shouldn’t deliberately shut someone down or do anything that could hurt their feeling.
She says an assertive individual should respect all kinds of people without discrimination.
Attend group meeting
Counselling psychologist Male adds that you should attend group and office meetings without fail to show people that you value them and give each person a chance to talk and express themselves.
“Value yourself without stepping on someone’s toes, express your feelings clearly without giving someone a chance of thinking you are disrespectful. If you are to miss a meeting, have a good reason,” he adds.
He says you should fully engange in office work to show you are one of them but do not boss anyone.
Wanja says be honest because once people realise you are a liar, they will not believe in you. “You should be flexible at all time, allow your rights to be violated sometimes to calm a situation,” he says.
Namukose says you should ask for help where necessary other than blundering. She notes that most assertive people feel they are the final man therefore can’t have anyone help them which is a bad attitude.
Have an open mind that is eager to learn all the time. This will make you more knowledgeable and make people around you accept your assertiveness.

Do research before talking
Namukose says you need to be sure of what you are talking about, no one will believe in you if you insist on discussing unresearched information.
She adds that when involved in an argument, focus on the topic at hand without getting emotional.
Male empahsises that you should adopt an accommodative language even if you are the boss.

How to be assertive without being arrogant

Everyone wants to be more confident, but not everyone knows how to be assertive. Assertive falls right between passive and aggressive. If you’re passive about voicing your opinion, you may come across as submissive. And if you are aggressive with your viewpoint, you may come across as a hostile or, even worse, a bully.

But if you learn to be assertive, you can express yourself without being passive or aggressive, and you will have a better chance of getting what you want.

Here are seven simple ways to help yourself become more assertive.

1. Understand assertiveness.

Assertiveness is an interpersonal skill in which you demonstrate the healthy confidence to stand up for yourself while still respecting the rights of others. When you are assertive, you are neither passive nor aggressive, but direct and honest. You don’t expect other people to know what you want, so you speak up to ask for what you need calmly and with confidence.

2. Keep your communication style in line.

When it comes to being assertive, communication style is critical, and the key is to be respectful of those with whom you are trying to communicate. Pay attention to your body language as well as the words you say, and make sure you’re congruent in your words, body language, and tone. Never expect people to read your mind; if you want something, say so, and if something bothers you, speak up. Look confident when making a request or stating a preference. Stand up straight, lean in a bit, smile or keep a neutral facial expression, and look the person in the eye.

3. Understand and accept differences.

Assertiveness doesn’t mean being dismissive of other people’s points of view. Just as you state your own opinion, you work to understand other points of view. Don’t allow differences to upset you or make you angry; remember that differences don’t necessarily mean you are right and the other person is wrong. Try to understand their point of view. Listen respectfully and don’t interrupt when they are speaking.

4. Speak simply and directly.

When you’re practicing assertiveness, it’s important to speak in a way that doesn’t imply accusations or make the other person feel guilty. Speaking your truth with candor shouldn’t mean making others feel wrong. Be simple, direct, and concise, and state what you know to be true for you. When asserting yourself, remember, less is more. Keep your requests free of meandering or long-winded explanations.

5. Exercise the power of “I.”

To be assertive without coming across as hostile, use “I” statements. Make it a habit to say things like “I think . ” or “I feel . ” Never use aggressive language or phrases like “You never. ” or “You always. ” These statements trigger other people, leaving them frustrated, and they shut down conversation. “I” statements allow you to be confident and assertive without alienating and eliminating other people.

6. Stay calm.

Being assertive might make you feel excited, but excitement can sometimes come across as aggression. Learn to stay cool and calm when expressing yourself; it will make you more confident and allow the other person to relax. Remember to breathe normally and be mindful of body language and eye contact. Be present with each other. Calm mind, calm speech, calm action–it not only gives you confidence, but allows the other person to remain composed as well.

7. Set boundaries.

Boundaries are the rules and limits you create for yourself that help you decide what you will and won’t allow. You don’t want people to walk all over you, but you don’t want people to think you are a bully, either. Setting boundaries will empower you to know when you need to say yes and when you want to say no.

Assertiveness is like any other skill–it takes practice and time to get it right. Keep working through each of these techniques and soon you will feel more confident.

How to be assertive without being arrogant

While some people are naturally more assertive, others are naturally more submissive. In today’s world, choosing to be more assertive can help you be more successful.

Assertive people tend to be better communicators. They have a better chance of ultimately getting what they want. They are more satisfied with their lives and get more respect from their peers and superiors, too.

However, if you are naturally submissive, learning how to be more assertive can be tough. You’ll probably think:

· I don’t want to sound like a jerk.
· I don’t like confrontation.
· It’s easier for other people.
· It’s just not who I am.

But, there’s a lot on the line when it comes to being assertive. So, don’t associate being assertive with being a jerk and don’t convince yourself that it’s only something “other people” can do.

You can make yourself more assertive and do so without coming off as disrespectful or insensitive. Here are some strategies to help you out.

Table of Contents

Prioritize respect

The fastest way to look like a jerk is to disrespect someone.

No matter how assertive you want to be or what situations you find yourself in, you must create a foundation of respect if you want to succeed.

For example, you need to learn how to make assertive statements at the proper time and place to avoid embarrassing or undermining anyone. You have to know how to listen carefully to other opinions before expressing yours. In addition to that, you also have to keep a professional and cordial tone.

These are just the basics. At this point in your career, you should already have a solid knowledge of the things that show respect.

Take baby steps

You don’t have to go from being fully passive to fully assertive overnight. You don’t even have to challenge yourself with big events, such as asking for a promotion, right away.

Instead, start with little things until you feel more comfortable expressing yourself.

For example, you could let your co-workers know that you’d like them to brew a fresh pot of coffee if they take the last of the old one. This is going to ease you into being more assertive while helping your co-workers recognize the more assertive version of you.

Think through your words carefully

How to be assertive without being arrogant

Being assertive means being a clearer communicator, too.

It’s impossible to be assertive when you’re rambling about things. Try to be as logical and precise as possible when you express your ideas and needs. If necessary, take a moment to think through what you’re going to say before you actually say it.

This will help you collect your thoughts, filter out the points you really want to get across and make you feel more confident about expressing them.

Remove the niceties

In our society, we’ve adopted a number of social niceties to mask our real intentions. For example, you’ll often encounter phrases like “When you have time, I was wondering if you could help me with…” instead of “Please help me with…”

The former may seem more polite, but the latter is clearer, more direct, and probably more respectable, too. People appreciate straightforwardness and are more likely to feel manipulated if you stuff your speech full of unnecessary niceties.

Say what you mean and mean what you say. It will become more comfortable in time.

Be sincere

This should be obvious, but it’s a shame how many people ignore this key element of being assertive. Assertiveness is about making your thoughts and feelings known and asking for things you need directly.

Trying to be more persuasive or seem nicer by making up lies or bending the truth are strategies that won’t work. If you want people to respect you and if you want to become more effective in your delivery, you need to speak from the heart. Again, this will become more comfortable in time.

Remain open to negotiation and disagreement

How to be assertive without being arrogant

You can’t always get what you want. No matter how assertive you are or how successful you’ve become, you’re going to face disagreement, resistance, and flat-out rejection.

You have to be prepared for this or you’ll lose face and become intimidated the next time you encounter the same situation. You need to open yourself up to the possibility of negotiation and compromise.

Being assertive isn’t just about “getting your own way”. It also involves being more open to further communication which can help you get closer to what you really want.

Being assertive without being a jerk boils down to being respectful of others and being in control of your actions. There’s a fine line between assertiveness and arrogance. As long as you know where that line is, you’ll know how to be more assertive without offending anyone.

How to be assertive without being arrogant

It’s not uncommon for highly sensitive people (HSPs) to struggle with being assertive, as in, standing up for one’s rights and values in a constructive and calm way. Due to their quiet demeanor, people may talk over them and disregard their feelings and viewpoints. Because HSPs can be easily hurt, they dislike aggressive communication, and many would avoid conflict all together, hoping that the issue would simply run its course.

As an HSP, I find that I struggle with conflict. In my first year at university, I didn’t get along with my roommates. One roommate often criticized me for not adequately cleaning her dishes as we rotated doing this chore. Her argument seemed unjust considering that she had not done her fair share of housekeeping, but I was hesitant to confront her. Instead, I held an unhealthy grudge towards her during the entire time that we were roommates.

I now realize that although HSPs struggle with conflict and are frequently being stepped on by others, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be assertive. I believe that it’s a matter of learning how to control our emotions, set boundaries, and communicate our thoughts better.

Below are 5 tips to help HSPs become more assertive:

1. Set boundaries.

Because HSPs are perceptive of other people’s feelings and often have high levels of empathy, they might find themselves becoming an emotional dumping ground for other people. As an HSP and an empath, I find myself entering unhealthy relationships in the hopes of saving the other person, where I then become hurt because the relationship is too one-sided. I realize that it’s important to take control in these situations by setting boundaries.

Are your emotions keeping you from moving forward? I can teach you how to live a more empowered, fulfilling life—in a safe, nonjudgmental environment. Learn more from our partner Brenda Knowles.

Often times, I can become very absorbed by another person’s world and forget to take care of myself first. What has helped me learn to draw the line is realizing that there is only so much I can do for others, and that I can’t take care of others if I don’t take care of myself first. Most people would understand when you let them know that you need time to recharge and that it’s nothing personal on their end.

2. Communicate your feelings through assertive writing.

When it comes to dealing with conflict, I find it highly useful to communicate the issue(s) in written words. Not only does this provide immediate cathartic release, but it also helps bring clarity to the situation and is an effective tool for open communication. An important thing to keep in mind when writing a letter about your conflict with someone is to use “I feel” statements. These statements are profound because they phrase the situation so that it reflects your perspective and emotional needs without putting direct blame on the other person.

An assertive letter should explain the situation as succinctly as possible, without getting into unnecessary details. Here’s a template for you to try:

Dear __________,

Although it’s difficult for me to bring up this subject, I feel that it’s necessary to discuss this (conflict/misunderstanding). Because I feel like I can better express myself in writing, I’ve chosen to write you a letter.

Lately, I’ve been feeling hurt about (insert situation). When (the situation) happens, I feel as though I (what emotional need is not met).

This has been weighing on me and I don’t want to leave it unresolved. I would appreciate if we can straighten this out soon, but even if we can’t, I just wanted you to know how I’m feeling.

3. Be mindful of how you present yourself.

A person’s word choice and body language can reveal a lot about them. HSPs may be too humble for their own good, and unfortunately, others may perceive this as a sign of weakness and try to take advantage of them. There are certain phrases and words that should be avoided in order to sound more assertive:

  • Just—this word minimizes the power of a statement and makes you seem defensive and apologetic.
  • I’m no expert, but…—this speech habit crops up to avoid sounding pushy or arrogant, but doing so negates the credibility of the statement.
  • I can’t—this is a passive statement and implies losing control over your actions.
  • What if we tried…?—stating an idea as a question invites rebuttals and is taken less seriously than straightforward statements.
  • Sorry–apologizing for things unnecessarily not only comes off as insincere, but it also makes you less assertive.
  • Thanks! : )—overusing exclamation marks and emojis may imply that you’re insecure and concerned about being perceived as kind, worthy, and likeable.

When it comes to body language, some body gestures such as crossed arms, shoulder hunching, and lack of eye contact could indicate defensiveness and a lack of confidence. A great way to improve your body language is through public speaking. Join a public speaking club or practice talking in front of a camera to build confidence and stage presence.

4. Don’t take things personally.

For HSPs, this is easier said than done. But keep in mind that people often project their negative emotions onto others because they struggle to cope with their own problems. Acknowledging this has helped me create a filter and take things less personally. I also try to understand why I feel defensive in certain situations and recognize that taking things too personally gives certain individuals more power over me than they deserve. As Eleanor Rooselvelt says, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

5. Take control of your happiness.

Finally, I’ve learned that my happiness does not depend on other people. Caring about what others think of me, needing people’s validation, and not giving myself time to relax and breathe makes me miserable. Below are some quotes that I find inspirational when it comes to taking control of my own happiness:

  • “Life’s too short to care what others think.” —unknown
  • “But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?” —Albert Camus
  • “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.” —Marcus AureliusDid you enjoy this article? Sign up for our newsletters to get more stories like this.

I don't have an answer for you. But, even if you're right, don't make your superiors look bad.

“. Never outshine your master. ”

What do you do when individuals below you try to make you look bad?

Can you explain this further?

What if you have a stupidvisor who firmly believes 2+2=5. And then bases all of their decisions based on that math? I mean, by correcting, or showing that 2+2=4, are we making them look bad?

Read "how to win friends and influence people" by Dale Carnegie

This book changed my life. 10/10 would recommend.

10/10 – i read it once a year

I just finished the first chapter the other day and I feel it has already changed my life.

It does help on how to interact with and influence people. However not sure if it teaches you how to be assertive.

This is advice I was given by one of my mentors.

Practice being an "active listener". Make it known by people that you are listening to what they're saying using your body language. Look them in the eyes when they speak, lean forward to show interest, and give them your complete focus. Nods or small words like, "Right", "okay", "I see what you are saying" are also great indicators to encourage them to continue. Or at least make it look like you are. Ask relevant and more in depth questions for clarification.

Be sparing with what you say in response and change your language. Don't meander with what you're trying to say.

So instead of, "In my opinion, I think we might be better off approaching things this way, maybe. Just a suggestion."

can be translated to

"We can resolve this issue through this means. I'm still open to collaboration to find a better solution."

Being respected at work is difficult but ultimately people are more inclined to respect someone if they feel respected by them in return.

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