The Power of Assertive Communication

by: Allison Lloyds, LMFT

In my private practice I work with many of my clients on their communication skills. I have found that practicing assertiveness is your best bet for communicating and helping maintain honest, long-lasting relationships with.

It conveys your needs and wants, while respecting yourself and others. Acting assertively allows others to hear you and also allows you to express yourself. It’s a win-win

A common myth exists out there in the world that assertiveness is mean, rude or comes off as abrasive. I disagree. When you are assertive you are simply asking for what you want and deserve in the same manner that you would like others to speak to you.

Below is some information on non-assertive behaviors which can get in the way of healthy relating...try to avoid falling into these traps and/or notice when you are engaging in these behaviors and correct yourself whenever possible.

Non-Assertive Behaviors:

  • Aggressive: This behavior can be summed up as demanding, abrasive or acting in a hostile manner; insensitive to others needs or feelings and attempt to obtain what you want through coercion or intimidation. Aggressive individuals often create conflict and drama. Aggressive individuals are less likely to form healthy relationships, be fulfilled, and have more health problems due to increased stress. They may threaten to or hurt others emotionally or physically to get what they want.
  • Passive/submissive: This behavior can be summed up as yielding to someone elses preferences while discounting your own rights and needs. These individuals don’t express their feelings or let others know what they want. People who are over-invested in being “nice” or “pleasing” and uncomfortable expressing their needs, giving others the message that they are insecure or unsure. Others tend to discount your needs leading to low self-esteem or resentment.Passive behavior patterns can lead to feeling hurt, upset, nervous or angry. Your needs are not met and you can feel out of control, dependent and helpless. When you act passively, you might: (i.e.) Put yourself down – “I never know what to do”, apologize too often, put other peoples’ needs first, say “It doesn’t really matter” when it does, or are indecisive “No, no, you decide”. Your body language appears like you have low confidence; looking down, shrugs, mumbles, lack of eye contact with others.

  • Passive Aggressive: Instead of openly addressing an issue, you hide aggressive feelings in an undercover fashion. Instead of asking for or doing something about what you really want you drop hints, complain, annoy, or pester others. You seldom get what you want because you don’t get the point across in a clear and healthy. You are more likely to have aggressive outbursts or emotional breakdowns, feeling like “no one is listening to me” or have internal frustration and get angry at yourself.
  • Manipulative: Attempting to get what you want by making others feel sorry for you or guilty. Instead of taking responsibility you play the victim to get others to take care or listen to you. It may make others feel upset because they are being pushed to the limit, it’s often confusing for the receiver. Manipulative people are more likely to feel alone, angry, and unheard and overtime have strained relationships with others as they are unable to express their needs.

Allison Lloyds, LMFT supports clients in finding and creating more happiness, peace, and cultivating healthy relationships. Allison's specialties include working with individuals and couples who are successful in many aspects of their lives, but want to improve their relationships, career or work dynamics, or are seeking support in dealing with life transitions, loss, depression or anxiety. Allison is a Clinical Member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the Women's Mental Health Consortium and the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. She writes for,,, and You can learn more about Allison and her private practice by visiting or calling (917) 399-3837. Follow Allison on Twitter @SynergeticPsych.