Assertive behavior involves the ability to express your feelings, to choose your behavior in any given situation, to exercise your rights when it is appropriate without denying the rights of others, to disagree when it’s important to do so, and, if appropriate, to change your own behavior or ask others to change their abusive behavior.

Tips for Assertive Behavior:

Body Language

Stand as tall as you are with naturally open shoulders and an upper body which is erect. Place your feet slightly apart, so your body feels centered, balanced and strong.

Facial Expression

Make certain your facial expressions and voice inflection convey the same feelings you are conveying verbally.

Eye Contact

Maintain a calm, steady gaze while looking at people directly in the eye when conversing with them.


Use strong, clear communication. Speak as if you have a sense of conviction behind your message; breathe from the diaphragm.

Verbal Assertiveness Skills:

Use commands and statements in a firm, non-threatening tone. Say “NO” firmly and clearly.

Avoid making excuses. There is no law which says we must respond to every request for assistance.

Be repetitive in response…BE PERSISTENT if others do not accept your initial response.

Use “I Statements” when saying NO. “I Statements” are self affirming and less threatening to others.

Avoid explaining or justifying your opinion or position.


Be sure to YELL when appropriate. And YELL something that makes it clear that you want outside help, i.e., “I need help; call 911”.

Assertiveness can be an effective technique for de-escalating a conflict and preventing an assault.

More Information

Awareness Skills