9 phrases that make you sound assertive and in control (in any situation)

Growing up, I was very unsure of myself. And this lack of self-belief manifested in my behavior and my language.

Every time someone asked me a question or wanted me to be in charge of a particular situation, I’d go, “Uh, uhm, okay? I mean, if you need me to do this, I’ll do it, but I’m not exactly sure if I’m the right person for the job. Uhm.”

It doesn’t exactly scream “confidence”, does it?

But that was before I learned a few assertive phrases that helped me sound confident and in control. Care to know what they are?

Let’s have a look!

1) “No problem, I’m on it”

Here’s something that’s helped me a great deal when it comes to increasing my confidence and appearing in control of every situation – “fake it till you make it” actually works.

No, you won’t be able to complete a task if you have no clue how to do it. No matter how much you fake your skills, you’ll probably fail. But that’s not the point. 

The point is that the internet has made it possible to find a guide to everything and anything you can think of. 

Accounting, DIY, cooking, computer programs, you name it, Google’s got it.

Therefore, you can easily fake confidence by saying, “No problem, I’m on it” before opening up your phone and looking up how to solve the issue in question. 

It’s a win-win situation.

While you will appear assertive and in control, the person you’re talking to won’t have to waste time explaining stuff you can easily find online. 

2) “Thank you, I can take it from here”

This phrase has a similar vibe to the one above, doesn’t it? It’s all about taking charge of the situation in a self-assured manner.

“Thank you, I can take it from here” is incredibly powerful, especially in a work setting. 

Not only does the phrase acknowledge the other person’s effort (“Thank you”) but it also helps you take over in a polite and assertive way.

Again, it doesn’t actually matter if you know what you’re doing – as long as you can easily look up the information you need online, you’re okay. 

3) “I’m not 100% sure about this, could you please explain it a bit more?”

Of course, you won’t always be able to google everything. Sometimes, the issue is too specific and too complicated to find an answer online in less than five minutes. 

Luckily, asking questions can be just as assertive as finding the answers for yourself – it all depends on the way you phrase it.

“I feel so lost, this is so overwhelming, I don’t know what to do! Help!” 

Yeah. Not great. Panicking equals losing control, which equals a lack of composure, which may in turn cost you some dignity and respect.

If you calmly say, “I’m not 100% sure about this, could you please explain it a bit more?” you’re displaying initiative, curiosity, and the courage to admit a lack of knowledge. 

In other words, you’re being assertive and confident

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Just make sure you use the right words to pass along the message.

4) “I look forward to hearing what you think”

Let’s talk about emails for a second. 

Many people have the bad habit of using people-pleasing language in their emails because they’re worried they may appear rude due to the lack of emojis. 

So, they overcompensate. They use too many exclamation marks, wish each other a lovely day twenty times in a row, apologize for being such a bother, and thank everyone for their time and consideration and effort and the fact that they’re breathing.

Don’t get me wrong, I also love to thank people – it’s polite and respectful – and I love the occasional exclamation mark to display my excitement.

But balance is everything. Don’t take it too far lest you appear too eager and uncertain.

“I look forward to hearing what you think” is a completely good way to end your email before you sign off. 

A face-to-face alternative works, too. Just say something along the lines of, “Let me know what you think, I’m excited to have a talk about it tomorrow.”

5) “I already have plans, but thank you”

phrases smart people use to assert boundaries 1 9 phrases that make you sound assertive and in control (in any situation)

Alright, let’s move on to another phrase, one that is used in those uncomfortable situations when someone’s inviting you on a date or to a party and you don’t want to go (for whatever reason).

My first reaction always used to be, “I’m so busy with this and that, you know how it is, I’m so sorry but I just can’t make it this time…”

But then I realized that I didn’t owe anyone anything. 

If I wanted to read a book in bed instead of going to a party, that was a completely valid choice. I didn’t have to hide behind a mask of “busyness” to decline an invitation. 

The same applies to you. If you don’t want to go somewhere, say you already have plans. 

Your plan might be to watch your favorite TV show, make yourself a nice dinner, or crochet a sweater for all I care – they’re all equally valid.

6) “Y doesn’t work for me, how about X?”

One of the most assertive things you can do is to express your discomfort with a specific situation. 

It sounds simple enough, but many people avoid doing it because they don’t want to “cause a scene” or “kill the mood”.

I get it. I used to be a huge people-pleaser and I always just went with the flow because I was terrified of conflict. 

But then I grew bitter and resentful. Eventually, my close relationships suffered because there was a lot of silent tension.

If something bothers you, say it in a polite and assertive manner:

  • “This doesn’t work for me”
  • “This makes me uncomfortable”

The next step is to offer a suggestion you feel more comfortable with. Afterward, you and the other person can try to reach a compromise.

7) “I need some time to think on this, I’ll get back to you tomorrow”

Just as you have every right to say something doesn’t work for you, you are also free to take space any time you feel like you need it.

No matter if you want to discuss the matter with your close ones, think it over, or if you feel too emotionally overwhelmed to make a decision right now, you can always express that you need some time.

And the phrase above is the perfect (and assertive) way to do just that.

8) “I appreciate your perspective. Here’s how I see it”

At some point, you’re bound to get into a disagreement with someone. That’s just how it is.

Not everyone will always immediately understand your point of view. They may even spend half an hour trying to convince you their perspective is the only correct one because it is so deeply ingrained in their mind.

If you want to appear assertive and in control, don’t give in to your emotions. Don’t flip out. Don’t get angry. 

Listen calmly, and when it’s the right time, reply, “I appreciate your perspective. I think you’re right about A, but I disagree with B and C. Here’s how I see it.”

No matter how frustrated the other person gets, stay composed. Your composure is your power.

9) “Let’s agree to disagree and leave it at that”

Not every discussion ends with an agreement or a compromise. 

Sometimes, you are simply two different people with different values, and no matter how much you try to argue your point, you just end up running in circles.

“Let’s agree to disagree and leave it at that” is an assertive way to put an end to the conversation with no hard feelings. 

What’s more, it signals that you’re able to accept the other person’s differences and that you can confidently end a discussion that ultimately goes nowhere.

In some cases, the most assertive thing you can do is to accept reality as it is and then… move on.

Picture of Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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