Assertive communication

Assertive Communication: A Must in the Global Workplace

Assertive communication is a must skill in the workplace. It is a skill that becomes a necessity as organizations are becoming more global in scope. In fact, for future business leaders, you need to communicate across diverse cultures. Hence, this can be a challenge. In addition, as work is becoming more global, working remotely is the new normal. In other words, employees can now work across the globe at different locations.

What is Assertive Communication?

Assertive communication is your ability to express your point of view that is honest, appropriate, direct, and respectful. Moreover, it means you can clearly express opinions and thoughts even under circumstances of fear of failure or rejection. Consequently, it’s a behavior that enables a person to act in his own best interest and stand up for himself without undue anxiety. Furthermore, you are honest with your opinions and feelings. In fact, you can express your rights without destroying the rights of others. Being assertive means standing up for your own rights in a way that does not violate the rights of others.

Assertive communication is respectful, direct, honest, open, non-threatening, and non-defensive. In other words, it does mean sticking up for yourself, making your position clear by knowing what you want. The key is to express yourself confidently while treating others with respect. It doesn’t mean shouting, stamping your feet, threatening, sulking, or crying until someone gives in.

Why be Assertive?

It prevents you from being invincible or being bullied. When you are passive, you have a tendency not to say “no” and always tries to please others. This will make you invisible in the workplace. And that’s negative. Because no one really notices you. In general, you always keep it safe and do not want to share your ideas and opinions. For this reason, people will take advantage of you. And sometimes bully you. When you’re passive and not assertive, you try to avoid conflict and keep your thoughts and feelings inside, which leads to stress and rumination.

Assertiveness enables trust. If you are honest and direct with your communication style, it fosters trust. And trust is an important element to produce high-performing teams. Assertive communication in teams enables everyone to voice their thoughts and opinions without destroying one another. Conflicts will arise in every team for sure. However, this will not lead to avoidance. With assertiveness, the team could address the cause of the conflict with honesty and trust.

Altogether, assertiveness improves your confidence and greatly increases your self-esteem. And this is very important. In effect, having to stand up for yourself and voice your opinion will improve your confidence. This can be quite difficult for people from Asian backgrounds due to the nature of the culture. Asian culture is highly collective and voicing one’s opinions can be frown upon. Children must pay obedience to their parents or elders. And because of the culture, the virtue of assertiveness is not nurtured at a young age. And this is the dilemma for Asians, voicing your opinions and thoughts can be a real challenge, especially in the global workplace.

Here’s the reason why you’re not assertive:

  • First, you do not want to hurt someone’s feelings,
  • Or you’re afraid of making a mistake. 
  • Next, you do not want conflict. 
  • Third, you want to be liked and avoid judgment or criticism.   
  • And finally, you don’t want to impose or burden someone. 

Tips to be Assertive in the Workplace

  • Stop apologizing. You don’t need to say “sorry” in every sentence.
  • Be direct, but not aggressive. Use simple words and to the point.
  • Use rational argument, stick to the facts  
  • Maintain eye contact and use suitable facial expressions 
  • Listen and keep listening 
  • Tailor your argument to empathize with the other person’s position
  • Don’t resort to flattery and never fidget 
  • Give the other person the right to say ‘No’ 

In conclusion, assertive communication is a skill and to achieve that skill means constant practice. Nonetheless, assertiveness is easier said than done. In fact, being assertive enables you to be more confident and boosts your self-esteem. Standing up for yourself whilst respecting others prevents you from being invincible or bullied in the workplace. Moreover, by being assertive, you are conveying trust and respect in the workplace. Finally, being self-aware of how you communicate with others is the first step to achieving this.


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Investigation the correlation between psychological empowerment and assertiveness in nursing and midwifery students in Iran. (2020). Nurse Education in Practice, 42 

Lancer, D. (2012). How to Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits. Darlene Lancer JD LMFT

Parham, J. B., Lewis, C. C., Fretwell, C. E., Irwin, J. G., & Schrimsher, M. R. (2015). Influences on assertiveness: gender, national culture, and ethnicity. The Journal of Management Development, 34(4), 421-439.

Purdue, J. (n.d.). Assertive Communication. NSWNMA. Retrieved from

The importance of being assertive in the workplace. (2001, Aug 13). Sunday Business Post 

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Len Peralta

About the Author

Len Peralta is the creator and main author of LCM Digital Training. Her expertise focuses on entrepreneurship and cross-cultural communication. Follow her on Twitter @AskLenPeralta