Module 13: Self Esteem and Assertiveness

People with low self-esteem often struggle to be assertive; this can be because they don’t feel they deserve to be listened to. However, learning to be assertive and being able to share your views with others can help improve your self-esteem. Once you can see other people value your views then you can see it yourself.

Learn to be assertive    

Being assertive means being able to stand up for your own or other people’s rights in a calm and positive way, without being either aggressive or passive.

Assertive individuals are able to get their point of view across without upsetting others, or becoming upset themselves. Someone who is assertive states their needs and opinions clearly, so that people take notice. Being assertive is a skill which can be developed.  It requires patience and practice and can result in positive communication, better decision making and less of the negative feelings which contribute to anger, worry and anxiety.

To be assertive you need to speak up for yourself in a way that does not disrespect the other person. It can involve saying no, which can be difficult, especially if it is a family member or friend who is asking us to do something.

Here is a list of things that might help:

  • Ask the person if you can talk to them on their own- don’t include other people
  • Remember that you want to maintain the relationship and that most people do not intend to deliberately hurt your feelings
  • Remember if something upsets you, you have the right to speak up about it
  • Pay attention to your body language as well as to the words you say – try to be open and confident.
    Keep your voice calm and low, look the other person in the eye, stand up straight so that you look confident (even if you don’t feel it)
  • Try to express your feelings if you have been upset – wait until you feel calm and explain clearly how you feel.
    Stick to the point
  • Give the other person the benefit of the doubt.  They may not even realise they have upset you or done anything wrong, so what you say may come as a surprise
  • Allow people a chance to respond-sometimes people need a chance to reflect on things before they can understand your point.
  • Tell people if you need more time or support with tasks that you find challenging.
  • Say ‘no’ to unreasonable requests.

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