Let’s get on the same page here, what does it mean to be assertive?

Someone is assertive when they behave confidently, stating what they want and believe, sometimes expressing their needs and opinions, so people take notice. Someone who is assertive oozes self-confidence (maybe, not all the time but definitely in the moment of exertion).

If you want to become more assertive, start with your self-confidence. Although being assertive is not an all-or-nothing behavior. Being of “medium” assertiveness means sometimes choosing to speak up and other times choosing (and keenly knowing when) to hold back and say nothing at all.

Acting inquisitive and curious is a safe way to come off as assertive but not overly aggressive. Asking questions about why and how someone arrived at a decision or their thought process behind a belief is not confrontational and comes off as magnanimous. Any mistakes exposed by asking questions become teachable moments. By acting curiously, you elevate the conversation above the tendency to be defensive and the blame-game.

To assess and develop your assertiveness, ask yourself: Am I confident in my skills and abilities? Do I know my worth? What holds me back from stating what I want or asking for what I need? Am I afraid to use my voice, or do I know it’s better not to?

The answers to these questions will be your gauge to measure whether you’re confident to speak up and smart enough to know when you shouldn’t, or if you need to work on your self-confidence.

Sometimes it takes a little summoning to be assertive. As Michelle Obama writes in her novel Becoming, “Confidence, I’d learned then, sometimes needs to be called from within. I’ve repeated the same words to myself so many times now, through many climbs. Am I good enough? Yes, I am.”