Depression Community

Bookmark and Share

Font Size:

Many with depression don't stand up for themselves. Are you having difficulty with being assertive? Here's how to be more assertive, deal with aggressiveness and improve the communication process.

Table of Contents


Having difficulty with being assertive? Here's how to be more assertive, deal with aggressiveness and improve the communication process.Difficulty with being assertive has stereotypically been a challenge ascribed to women. However, research on violence and men's roles demonstrated that many physical altercations result from poor communication which then escalates into larger conflicts.

Many men feel powerless in the face of aggressive communication from men or women in their lives; conversely, passivity in some situations can arouse frustration and anger for many men. As such, assertiveness can be an effective tool for men who are seeking to proactively alleviate violence in their lives, as well as a tool for fostering healthier, more satisfying lives.

Sociologists and mental health professionals are finding that assertiveness is usually displayed in certain circumstances. That is, assertiveness is not a personality trait which persists consistently across all situations. Different individuals exhibit varying degrees of assertive behavior depending on whether they are in a work, social, academic, recreational or relationship context. Therefore, a goal for assertiveness training is to maximize the number of context in which an individual is able to communicate assertively.


A non-assertive person is one who is often taken advantage of, feels helpless, takes on everyone's problems, says yes to inappropriate demands and thoughtless requests, and allows others to choose for him or her. The basic message he/she sends is "I'm not OK."

The non-assertive person is emotionally dishonest, indirect, self-denying, and inhibited. He/she feels hurt, anxious, and possibly angry about his/her actions.

Non-Assertive Body Language:

  • Lack of eye contact; looking down or away.
  • Swaying and shifting of weight from one foot to the other.
  • Whining and hesitancy when speaking.


An assertive person is one who acts in his/her own best interests, stands up for self, expresses feelings honestly, is in charge of self in interpersonal relations, and chooses for self. The basic message sent from an assertive person is "I'm OK and you're OK."

An assertive person is emotionally honest, direct, self-enhancing, and expressive. He/she feels confident, self-respecting at the time of his/her actions as well as later.

Assertive Body Language:

  • Stand straight, steady, and directly face the people to whom you are speaking while maintaining eye contact.
  • Speak in a clear, steady voice - loud enough for the people to whom you are speaking to hear you.
  • Speak fluently, without hesitation, and with assurance and confidence.