Many people are constantly being taken advantage of by friends, relatives and colleagues because they don’t know the difference assertive, manipulative and aggressive behavior. They feel that when they stand up for themselves, like saying ‘no’ or making a request, they are too aggressive. As a result, they suffer from guilt, shame, anger, frustration and low self-esteem.

  • Terminology: 

  • Assertiveness: the ability to express your rights needs and feelings, while respecting the rights, needs and feelings of the other person.

  • Manipulation: to get people to do what you want by lying, guilting, intimidation or indirect messaging. 

  • Aggressive: to get what you want no matter how, i.e. lying, bullying, guilting, threatening, abuse, insulting, humiliating, taunting.


  • Broken record: Repeat the same message over and over again, the first word is always ‘NO,’ when someone is trying to ask you to do something you do not want to do.  

  • When you have been insulted or hurt in any way, rather than pointing an accusatory finger at the other person, use the “I” word. Say how something makes you feel, i.e. “I feel angry, hurt, uncomfortable, intimidated, ignored” instead of “You are making me feel…”

  • Avoid pointless arguments when you are being verbally attacked. Do not defend yourself or justify or explain (they won’t listen to you anyway), just calmly say, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” 

  • Keeping an assertiveness diary. This chart (see below) will teach you how to keep a brief personal record of your non-assertive behaviors and then replace them with new assertive communication responses. Each day try to make a brief entry. This entry can be something that happened in the past, no matter how far back, or a recent event. This will make you more aware of the language you use when you communicate with other people. As a result, eventually you will begin expressing yourself in a more assertive self-respectful way. 

Download the Assertiveness Training Chart here (Make a copy for each week).