9 ways to be more assertive without coming off as rude

There’s a lot to be gained by being more assertive. By standing up for yourself and getting your point of view across, you’re less likely to feel stressed, angry, resentful, and victimized.

But here’s the thing: a lot of the time assertive people also come off as rude and that gives assertiveness a bad rap.

Being assertive is all about delivering your message respectfully and that’s the best way to ensure it gets heard and understood.

In this article, I’m gonna share 8 ways to be assertive without coming off as rude.

Here we go:

1) Use “I” statements

Now, if you want to be heard and get your message across, you need to say what you have to say without coming off as angry, aggressive, accusatory, or just plain rude.

One of the best ways to do that is to use “I” statements.

For example, instead of saying, “You never do the dishes”, say, “I would appreciate it if you would do the dishes.”

Or, if you think someone is wrong, don’t say, “That’s stupid, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Instead, say something like, “I disagree with that statement because …”

2) Learn to say “no”

Look, I understand that saying “no” can be difficult for some people. You feel like you have to say “yes” so that you don’t disappoint the other person.

However, if you don’t want to do something, you have every right to say “no”. That’s all part of being assertive. There’s nothing rude about exercising your right to choose.

But that’s not all, you also don’t have to go explain yourself!

Saying “no” or “I can’t do that” is enough. You don’t owe anyone an in-depth explanation.

3) Be clear

Listen, if you want to be assertive without being rude, you need to avoid making vague statements that can be misunderstood.

  • If you want something done, you need to say exactly what you need and when.
  • If you disagree with something, clearly state that you disagree and why. Don’t say, “I don’t know” or “Maybe”.

Being clear and specific is a great way to be more assertive and get your message across.

4) Try not to get emotional

I know that it can be tough to be assertive and remain composed in certain situations, after all, you can’t control the other person’s reaction.

But you can control yours.

So, don’t let yourself become angry or defensive.

Remember what you wanted to say and deliver your message clearly in a calm tone. That way you’ll be sure that you didn’t come off as being rude, and that you expressed your opinion.

The rest isn’t up to you, you’ve done your bit.

5) Write down what you want to say

Until you get used to being more assertive in your dealings with other people, you could find it useful to write down what you want to say and to practice saying it.

You can either practice saying the words out loud to yourself in the mirror or even get a friend to role-play with you.

This will help you remember what you want to say and stay on point when it comes to being assertive.

Can you do that? Wanna give it a try?

6) Start with something small

Now, if you’re unsure about making the leap to being assertive and you’re scared to come off as rude or upset to the other person, you should start small.

So, instead of telling your boss that his latest craze isn’t the best thing for the company and that it would be better to focus on what you do best, try telling the butcher what cut of meat you want.

I’m serious! I know that it can be tough to say, “Not that piece, it’s too fatty. I’d like that one over there for my roast.”

So, why not start with something small like that and work your way up to something big and super important?

7) Don’t forget body language

Did you know that words are only one part of communication?

It’s true, your body does the rest of the talking.

For example, the way you carry yourself can make all the difference between appearing confident – which is a key part of being assertive – and unsure.

Here’s how to act confident (even if you’re not feeling it at first):

  • Stand up straight, and don’t slouch. You don’t want to look like you’re retreating into yourself
  • Lean in slightly toward the other person
  • Make eye contact
  • Don’t cross your arms or legs because that’s a closed-off and defensive stance
  • Be aware of what you’re doing with your face, you don’t want to frown, scowl, or look worried

The bottom line is that if you want to be assertive without being rude, and you want to be heard, you need your body language to show that you’re assertive and confident.

Trust me, that will increase your chances of success!

8) Acknowledge the other person’s opinion

If you don’t agree with someone’s point of view and you’d like to express yours and explain why you think they’re wrong and you’re right, start by acknowledging their opinion first.

Make sure you really listen to what they have to say and let them know that they’re being heard. Show them that you understand their perspective, don’t just dismiss them.

This can help prevent negative reactions like them becoming defensive or even dismissing your opinion altogether.

9) Don’t take things personally

The thing is that you can do everything right – choose your words wisely to make sure that you’re clear and respectful – and still get a bad reaction from the other person.

That’s why it’s important to understand that you can’t control how other people are going to react and you shouldn’t take it personally.

If you’ve said and done everything you could to be polite and diplomatic, their negative reaction has nothing to do with you, but rather, with their past experiences. 

All in all, if you try being assertive and get a bad reaction, don’t let it stop you from trying again in the future. Do we have a deal?


Picture of Jelena Dincic

Jelena Dincic

Jelena has a background in photography and film-making and has spent the last few years as a content editor and copywriter. Jelena is a citizen of the world who is passionate about travel and learning about new cultures. She’s a foodie who loves to cook. And, as an art lover, she is always experimenting with new art mediums. When she’s not at her computer, she’s usually out and about in some forest with her dogs.

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