How to Be More Assertive: 5 Comforting Words of Advice for Introverts

Knowing when to walk away is wisdom. Being able to is courage. Walking away with your head held high is dignity…

Tamisha Ford, MBA
Musings on Communication
8 min readApr 15, 2014


Assertiveness is not a dirty word…

For some people though, it feels intimidating and confusing in ways, which is why I interchange this word with expression so often. Expression, as a replacement for assertiveness can feel a bit safer. However, they are a bit different, too.

Assertiveness is a type of communication. We see its cousins at play every single day — passivity, passive aggressiveness, and aggression itself — all also forms of communication (not the preferred types).

You might remember that we recently looked at different paradoxes that can show up for us as introverted women, and assertiveness as an introvert is truly another paradox that exists. You want your ideas to be seen and heard, but how do you allow that while also keeping them protected and safe?

How can you truly be more yourself AND get more of what you want?

It doesn’t have to be intimidating, and there’s a way to learn it that’s authentic to you. The key is learning the ins and outs of this type of communication, its advantages, and how it can best serve you and your lifestyle.

Many introverts struggle with passivity the most — it’s the one I see the most often. In all its many forms, it can really keep you from having, living, or enjoying your life and work. Another one is aggression — teetering that fine line between aggressive behavior and assertiveness is sometimes difficult. It was for me for many years, and I still have to really watch this, because aggression isn’t always about yelling and screaming. It can simply be saying something very inappropriate in the very wrong time (which comes off as aggressive).

So, in the spirit of education, I’d like to hang out w/ you for a bit and go over some beginning foundations and wisdoms of assertive communication. I will warn you — you likely haven’t heard this taught this way before. I’d like you to be open-minded about learning something new without judging the outcome or the origin. Just sit with the ideas and allow them to comfort you that this isn’t as difficult a process as it appears to be.

Consistency cultivates respect

One of the goals of assertiveness should be that it’s able to be repeated. Consistency cultivates respect over time. As an idea though, consistency with regard to assertiveness, for some introverts, is not an easy concept. It can be difficult to repeatedly, and with passion, ask for what you need. It takes a lot of practice and commitment to consistency to manifest it. And with that consistency comes a respect, not only from within, but outwardly also. Other people are naturally drawn to individuals who consistently show up in their own authentic way.

Assertiveness thrives on consistency to be truly effective.

Loving discipline protects

We get to consistency in our assertive communication, only by disciplining ourselves each and every time a scenario presents itself. Each time we have the opportunity to ask for what we want, need, or desire we are exercising discipline. We are disciplining ourselves to accomplish an outcome that is consistent with us honoring who we are.

There is nothing more assertive than being consistent and disciplined in asking for what you want. Take comfort in knowing this is not the easiest thing for any of us to do, but awareness is the key to it. Just become more aware when an opportunity pops up — now that you know this is your chance, you’ll start to more notice these times — make a decision right then & there to honor your truth. Each time you do, you strengthen your discipline muscle. The key is all in your approach. I want you to come away from this self-loathing-ness when you can’t seem to accomplish it or say what you need to say.

No — loving discipline says, “[Your name here] — you didn’t quite make it this time in asking for what you needed, but you’re getting there — we’ll try better next time.” This is the Compassion Protection Barrier. With self-compassion, we insulate ourselves from self-hate, the inner critic (whoa, is he/she loud!) and the negative self-talk.

Assertiveness will come more naturally through loving discipline that protects.

Assertiveness is attractive

Wow — remember this post on the 15 reasons emotionally healthy men love assertive women? It’s gotten lots and lots of reads, and many women have written me telling me they google’d certain words or phrases to find that post and were incredibly happy they did. Even men have written me about that post.

The truth is the truth — and if you read that post, you will see assertiveness in a whole new beautiful light.

By nature, assertiveness is attractive to most people. It’s not attractive to people who don’t understand it as a form of communication (in other words, they equate it with aggressiveness or don’t understand the difference), or people who are control freaks. These types of people will not respond to assertiveness because it challenges their ego. They will be intimidated by the consistency, the true authenticity in voice, and the loving compassion with which you’re asking for what you need.

Usually, these types want aggression from you because aggression is what they’re also used to. By not returning aggression for aggression, their ego will feel threatened.

To any other person however, assertiveness will be very attractive. A potential mate who is healthy will adore the quality — it might even be a breath of fresh air. To an employer, it might get you a raise or a promotion. To your business partner, maybe they’ll love the fire in your passion actually showing. Whatever the situation, assertiveness is a very attractive form of communication for so many things in life, love, & work.

Take comfort in knowing you’re learning a communication skill that is going to reap big rewards for you.

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Direct & clear communication builds

I want to teach you the 5 facets of direct & clear communication:

  1. Set the stage — what is the reason for the conversation? If you just go into an argument, meeting, confrontation, or conversation with no vision of a desired outcome, you’re going to end up in one of the other communication buckets that you don’t want, such as being way too passive about what you need, or aggressive and hurting someone’s feelings. (I’ve been here so many times). So set the stage — talk about it with whomever you’re entering the environment with.
  2. Clarity & Precision — no rambling aloud. What do you want to say? What is the most direct way you can say it without being rude or passive aggressive?
  3. Take Responsibility — don’t push the responsibility of the outcome of the conversation, the tone of the environment, and the feel of the atmosphere onto someone else. Take responsibility for your part in the conversation willingly. You cannot control another human being — if they don’t accept any responsibility, that’s on them. Leave with your dignity in tact.
  4. Repeat if needed — You may need to repeat yourself, repeat the desired outcome or reframe what you mean by something. Be fully prepared to do so without frustration, complaining, or aggression. You’re engaging with another human being (albeit as frustrating as they may be), so be true to treating them as such.
  5. The Power of Using Silence — there’s a little-known technique psychologists and counselors use to get the truth out of their clients. It’s called moments of silence. In our current society, it’s worth a million dollars. Honestly. Everyone wants to talk over each other these days. People interrupt other people during meetings, yell over each other at the dinner table, and are already thinking of a rebuttal to someone’s statement before they can even finish the sentence. As an introvert who’s used to quiet, you can leverage this as an advantage for you because when humans are given a moment more of silence, they are more likely to divulge what’s true for them or how they really feel. It’s genius, I’m telling you! Try it this week. Where you would normally chime in, wait 5 extra seconds. Pay attention to how much more direct the conversation becomes. Don’t try to fill it up with a bunch of fluff, just to relieve your own discomfort.

Personal power is inevitable

Assertive communication will boost your personal power.

It will cultivate clarity & vision in your life, show you your values & belief systems (from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks), and bolster your confidence levels the more consistent you are. Ultimately, it will also build your relationships to be a huge part of your personal power factor.

To get more of a visual feel & vibe of this type of communication, I’d like you to check out my Pinterest boards on the power expression, assertiveness as a form of expression, and polite assertiveness. I teach on Pinterest through pins, so follow those boards if you’re interested in getting more connected to assertiveness.

For now, here are some quotes I think you’ll love…

18 Powerful quotes on assertiveness and it’s power

“Class is knowing what to say, when to say it, and when to stop.” (Unknown)

“Instead of putting others in their place, put yourself in their place.” ~Amish Proverb (Empathy, anyone?)

“Sometimes it’s better to react with no reaction.” (Unknown)

“if you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything else.” ~Mark Twain

“Please take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space.” ~Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

“No one has ever made himself great by showing how small someone else is.”

“Passionately protest mediocrity.” ~Danielle Laporte

“I owe no explanations for my flaws. I don’t have to justify my mistake, my past, or my insecurities. I am growing, and learning. Let me live.” (Unknown)

“Don’t settle: Don’t finish crappy books. If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant. If you’re not on the right path, get off of it.” ~Chris Brogan

“Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.” (Unknown)

“Apologizing doesn’t always mean that you are wrong and the other person is right. It simply means that you value your relationship more than your ego.”

“A tiger doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.” (Unknown)

“Confidence contributes more to conversation than wit.” ~La Rochefoucauld

“Be daring, be different, be impractical. Be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of ordinary.” ~Cecil Beaton

“The trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk more.” ~Erica Jong

“Speaking the unspeakable transforms it. It becomes our magic and our power.” ~Randi Buckley

“Do your thing. Do it unapologetically. Don’t be discouraged by criticism. You probably already know what they’re going to say. Pay no mind to the fear of failure. It’s far more valuable than success. Take ownership, take chances, and have fun. And no matter what, don’t ever stop doing your thing.” ~Asher Roth

“Knowing when to walk away is wisdom. Being able to is courage. Walking away, with your head held high is dignity.” (Unknown)



Tamisha Ford, MBA
Musings on Communication

Digital Creator & Interior Designer & Stylist. Teacher, Writer, Thinker, & Feeler.