Obstacles that Prevent Your Assertiveness: How to Deal with Fear
Assertiveness: How to Deal with Fear


Anger, oddly enough, is actually easier to deal with than assertiveness. Anger gives people a sense of power, forcefulness, and control, even though the person is often out of control at that point. Being assertive is a lot more difficult. It is a balancing act between calm self- expression and firm, strong clarity.

This article will help you deal with the inevitable fear that will strike when you first begin to assert yourself, particularly in the face of those who have become used to you being passive, aggressive, or both. Keep in mind that the people in your life are accustomed to you behaving in a certain way, so they will be a little taken aback when you begin standing your ground and vocalizing your needs and wants. They may not even take you seriously at first. Stand your ground and keep at it. They soon will come to realize that you mean business. It would be great if we could just swap out our work and personal relationships for new people who do not already know the unassertive us, but that will not work; so we must face our fears and combat them.

Your Rights and the Rights of Others

A good place to start with being assertive is to remember the one and only important life rule when dealing with others: Treat others the way you want to be treated. While this is not always possible, it is mostly possible. Always remember that, yes, you do have rights, but so does everyone you come into contact with. That being said, think about how it would make you feel if someone you know spoke to you in a certain way. Plan your words accordingly. For example, if someone grabbed his or her pencil out of your hand and shouted, "Stop taking my [expletive] pencils!" you would be pretty upset. Likewise, this approach would anger anyone. Think of assertiveness as the volume button of a remote control. Start at a medium-low volume, loud enough to be heard but not so loud as to make people cringe. Take up your volume a small notch at a time if necessary to be heard, but avoid ever blowing out the speakers. If you find that you have reached as high a volume as is comfortable and you still have not gotten results, it is time to take other measures.

Dealing with Intimidation

Some people can be very intimidating. Whether it is the president of your company, a stern family member, or a loose cannon in your personal life, some people just appear bigger, scarier, or more frightening than others. Some do this intentionally; others do not. They are two very different breeds of people. Those who unintentionally are intimidating are not really aware of the effect they have on others because of their position, accomplishments, or achievements. They often are very approachable and open to communication. It is your fear of them that makes them seem as if they are not. With these folks, it is good to remember that they are human beings and as long as you are following the one and only important life rule, you should be fine when asking them for what you want and need.

The other type of intimidator is the type who intentionally goes out of the way to appear threatening. These people will pout, sulk, glare, scowl, and tell you numerous stories of horrible things they did to others who got in their way. They will imply that they are above the rules that everyone else has to follow and act as if they can get away with just about any mean, dastardly thing they please. Do not let them fool you. Under that arrogance is a really damaged self-image with a narcissistic streak.

On the other hand, some people are simply snobs who really believe they are better than most mere mortals. Watch how they behave around people they deem worthy of their attention. They become insipid and saccharine. There is not much you can do to get through to these thankfully rare individuals. Trying to use the usual, normal, healthy methods of assertiveness will get you nowhere. They will use one of these three tactics: 1) they will outright deny any request you make; 2) they will attack you without restraint if you even dare ask; or 3) they will pretend to go along with your requests, but you will most likely find out later that they were not. Do not let people like this intimidate, rattle, or scare you. Stand your ground, go through mediators or other methods if you must, but do not allow them to bully you. Remember, they probably bully anyone they think they can, so if you stand up to them, you may just set an example for other people they have been intimidating for a long time.


Being Afraid and Standing Up for Yourself, Anyway

Everyone is afraid of something. Everyone has fears. Even people who do not seem capable of being frightened or scared really are; they just hide it better. Bullies are people who prey on those they believe are weaker than they are, and they often are the most cowardly, frightened people of all. Remember the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz? He was a bit of a bully when it came to the small dog, Toto. However, when Dorothy stood up to him, he not only backed down, he cried. Acknowledge that everyone, including you, has fear, but assert yourself, anyway. Put your fears aside, state your assertion, and be afraid afterward.
What Do You Really Want?


Perhaps the most essential part of asking for what you want is knowing what you want to ask for. If you do not clearly identify your needs and wants, you cannot possibly know where to start. Although it is easier to clarify what you do not want, you also need to really know what you do want.

Making lists is a really great method of doing this. Present, short-term, and long-term wants and needs should be added to the list. Also, add what you are sure you do not want. This method will help you get clear about what you do and do not want out of your job, relationships, and life in general. After you have established a precedent, you can then go about achieving those needs and wants. After you make your list(s), it helps to make a plan and stick with it in order to achieve your goals. This lesson will walk you through the steps of finding out what you want and taking steps to achieve and accomplish your goals.

Use a List If It Helps

Making lists to discover what you want and do not want is not a new concept. People have been using this method for decades to achieve their goals and realize their dream jobs, personal happiness, or satisfying relationships. Most good books on finding the right life partner will tell you to make a solid, clear list before you even begin to date.

Making lists is a fine way of mapping out what you want now and in the future. There are many ways of doing this. Below are some ideas for you to try. First, purchase a good notebook or legal pad and set it aside for your lists. Then think of headings for your list and write what you want and need below the headings. Below are some suggestions and examples:

Personal Life

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Work Life

A good relationship

A raise

To go out more and make new friends

For my boss to appreciate me more

Learn a language

To get along better with Mary in marketing

Learn to ski

A bigger office

To get in better shape physically

A promotion

The above list is very broad and general. Later, once you have written down your broad wants and needs, you should then break down the list into smaller, more detailed and more manageable chunks. For instance, if you are not in a relationship and want one, you should make a separate list for that. Add to the list what you want and do not want from the relationship. Write your must-haves, things that are negotiable, and your deal-breakers. Then, as you date and seek out the companion you want, run the list through your head. If a date has a deal-breaker characteristic, then do not have a second date with that person. Likewise, with work issues, write one goal down and break it into more detailed form. If it is a raise you are after, write down how much, by when, and what you might do to get a raise. Keep doing this with goals until you achieve them. A warning to the wise, though: It is important to remain flexible. If you are offered a promotion with a new title and office but a smaller raise than desired, it might be worth giving up your ideal raise in salary. If you meet a potential partner and he or she is everything you want and need in a person except for one deal-breaker on your list, such as following another religion, ask yourself how important that drawback is to you.

In addition to the lists you make for your general wants, needs, and goals, you also should make a list for present (I want this now), short-term (I want this within an X amount of months), and long-term (I want this within a year or X amount of years).

Getting Clear on Your Needs and Desires

Whenever you waver on your needs and desires, or when things shift and change, you need to get clear again. The list method really works, but you will need to re-evaluate it and adjust the items from time to time as your life shifts and changes. For instance, a woman may have wanted to travel the world with her husband, but she just found out she is pregnant. In that case, she may need to adjust her plans and make it a trip to Europe instead. Life happens, so we all need to adjust our goals, needs, and desires accordingly. The important thing is to always remain clear.

Achieving Your Needs and Desires

Once you have a good idea of what you want, it is important to follow through. That is where asserting yourself comes in. Use your assertiveness techniques to make your wants and needs happen. For instance, you want a raise at work, but you are not sure what your boss wants from you in order to give you one. Make an appointment with your boss to discuss it. Sit down and take notes and ask him or her what you can do to achieve your goal.

Writing a note on the side of your lists of how and where you can assert yourself to make your dreams come true helps a lot. Next to each want and need write what you can do to make it happen. Then do it.

Making a Plan

Once you have done your homework, make a plan. If your boss says, "You need to get XYZ certification; learn Spanish; take a course on HTML coding, etc., set a plan in motion to accomplish those goals. Where can you take the needed course? Will your company pay for it? Can you take it online? When is enrollment? Then, sign up for and do well in the course or whatever endeavor you have to undertake to get the raise. Set a clear deadline for yourself to do so. When you have completed those goals, go back to your boss and ask for the raise based on achieving whatever requirement he or she has given you. Do this with all of your goals.


You must get clear on your wants, needs, and goals before you can ask others to accommodate them. Make lists, adjust lists, find out how to get what you want and need. Make plans for getting what you want and need. Follow through and make clear deadlines for yourself. Use your assertiveness to get what you want and need or to find out how you can get those things. Remember to be flexible because life happens.