5 Powerful Habits Assertive People Use To Make Others Respect Them

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assertive woman with her arms crossed

If you want to train yourself on being assertive, it's best to start small.

While great change is possible, it's crucial to remember that Rome wasn't built in a day. In this metaphor, Rome is what you will become when you can communicate directly and effectively, drama-free.

The more assertive you are, the more well-respected you will become.

Here are 5 powerful habits assertive people use to earn respect from others.

1. Set boundaries.

An assertive person is able to set boundaries in a reasonable, clear-headed tone. Assertive people know exactly what they feel comfortable doing and not doing. They have no problems saying no to the people they love, and feel comfortable setting boundaries with family, friends, and colleagues.

Someone who struggles to set boundaries might feel guilty letting others down. But it's simply a way to let other people know what you will or will not tolerate.

If you don’t feel like talking on the phone with your mother every day, tell her your schedule is too swamped to talk on the phone. Perhaps you have two friends that don’t get along, and one of them keeps trying to make you the middleman.



You’ll feel much better if you set a boundary with your friend. “Listen,” you can say, “I love both of you and want to be a good friend to both of you. I’m not the person to talk about this with because it isn’t good for our friendship if I get involved."

By setting boundaries, you are staying true to who you are and aren't compromising on your comfort level. Says clinical hypnotherapist and spiritual life coach Keya Murthy "In order to be assertive, you have to be aligned with your core self and speak your truth. You don’t need to justify or prove anything, only speak your truth with calm poise."

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2. Stand up straight.

When it comes to assertive communication, body language is everything. That means adjusting your posture, speaking clearly, and working on your handshake — all of these small changes boost your presence.

For some, asserting their needs is uncomfortable — and you can tell by the way they slouch and avoid eye contact. But those small body language movements speak volumes about how a person like this feels: unconfident and unnoticed.

Paying attention to your body during a confrontation is a fantastic way to be more assertive. It communicates that you are sure of yourself, and people will have a much more difficult time taking advantage of you.

3. Offer solutions.

Stick to the facts, and keep the emotion out of it.

Let's say you're struggling to keep the peace in your living situation. Instead of going behind your roommate's back and dragging her name like a stick through the mud, be direct with her. Telling her she’s a messy slob isn’t an example of assertive communication.

Offering solutions, however, shows that you’re committed to cleaning consistently. Ask your roommate if a chore wheel would make things easier, or if switching chores would make things better.

When you offer solutions, you ensure that you're steering clear from personally attacking others. People who are confident don’t need to tear others down, even if they feel as though they are in the right. Identify what you want, and strive for success.



4. Maintain a neutral facial expression.

This one’s a lot easier than it sounds — but it’s also essential.

You’re allowed to have angry thoughts and feelings for someone, but save those frustrations for your therapist or journal. An essential step in your assertiveness training is to stay calm during the confrontation.

You can be assertive without being rude by keeping a neutral facial expression. Mocking someone or rolling your eyes at them can only make everything worse. The same goes for being emotionally reactive, particularly in your face.

Assertive people want to make things better for themselves and that means removing drama from the equation.

5. Use 'I' statements.

Practice assertive communication by using “I” statements. It allows you to communicate your needs without sounding accusatory or hostile. You can be more assertive without being rude by refusing to make disrespectful accusations.

For example, instead of saying, “You’re wrong for forgetting to do the dishes,” say something like, “I feel a lot better when the kitchen is clean, and when I see dishes in the sink it makes me feel frazzled.” See? There is no blame being communicated; instead, you are expressing how you feel.

Imagine that you're on the receiving end of what you’re saying. How would you feel if someone said, “You’re wrong,” over something as mundane as a household chore?

If this is difficult for you to do, you can always rehearse what you’d like to say beforehand. Maybe workshop it with your friends.

Photo: cottonbro studio / Pexels

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What is the difference between passive, aggressive, and assertive communication?

Passive communication

Passive communication styles may seem easy going at first, but they usually lead to passive-aggressive behavior. A passive person presents themselves as someone who goes along with the flow. Usually, they’re not as easy going as you think.

Not everyone needs a cleaning schedule or cares if you leave your laptop on the charger. But to assume someone doesn’t have needs is a little absurd. Setting boundaries can put someone in a state of distress, especially if they’re struggling with their mental health.

Passive communicators tend to be people-pleasers and are driven by their intense fear of preventing others from being mad at them. Being too passive gives people the license to walk all over you. If people walk all over you, you will grow to resent them.

Aggressive communication

An aggressive communication style is not the same as being assertive. In fact, assertiveness and aggression could not be more different.

An aggressive person disregards the needs and opinions of others. They’ll often confuse being rude with setting boundaries. An aggressive person operates with a “my way or the attitude” and has a difficult time accepting that people are... well, you know, people.

Aggressive communication is defined by emotional intensity, minimal empathy, and a desire to “win” the argument. They also have a distorted sense of what sticking up for themselves means.



Assertive communication

An assertive person is driven by their desire to form a connection with others. Remember that connection is not always a friendship or romantic relationship.

If you're sharing a living space with someone you don't like, for example, being assertive does not mean you need to get to the root of your emotional issues with one another. An assertive person, however, is able to be clear, calm, and level-headed. An assertive person leaves the drama at the door, but is able to be direct.

The three C’s for assertive communication are Confidence, Clear, and Controlled. Confidence means you believe in yourself to handle the conflict at hand. Clear means that your message is very easy to understand. Controlled means you deliver your information in a controlled tone.

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What are the benefits of being assertive?

1. You boost your self-esteem.

The more assertive you are, the more confident you'll appear — and the more confident you'll feel. The beautiful thing about confidence is that it spills over into all other aspects of your life.

Personal development coach Christine Hourd says, "Being shy or socially anxious is a roadblock to achieving personal and professional ambitions, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead of focusing on your thoughts, place your attention on the person you’re speaking to."

"By practicing this you’ll begin to appear and sound more confident and knowledgeable," she continues. "You’ll also add more value to the conversation.”

2. You earn respect from others.

There's a way to take the high road without compromising your needs. You're allowed to take space from someone, cut off contact with them, or hang up the phone.

An assertive person gains respect from someone because they know what they need and know how to go after it — without being rude. It empowers others to take care of themselves.



3. You create win-win situations.

In a win-win situation, nobody loses. A petty, aggressive person thrives on revenge. They want to see others fail because, to them, that means they succeed.

An assertive person, however, does not feel rejuvenated by other people's pain. Ultimately, they would like to get along with everyone.

Remember that disrespectful people don't respect themselves at the end of the day.

4. You build healthier relationships.

Assertive people attract assertive people. If you are open, honest, fair, and clear-headed in your communication style, people will enjoy spending time with you.

Conflict is inevitable in every relationship. But if you handle conflict with diligence and grace, people will respect and trust you, and you'll have healthy relationships. The better you are at setting boundaries for yourself, the better you'll be at respecting other people's boundaries.

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Izzy Casey is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, entertainment, and pop culture topics. Her work has been published in The Iowa Review, Bennington Review, Gulf Coast, Black Warrior Review, BOATT, NY Tyrant, and elsewhere.