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Assertiveness: An Introduction

It can be hard to strike a balance between your needs and the needs of other people. If you’re passive, you might have difficulty asking for what you need. If you’re aggressive, it might be hard to make room for the needs of others. Assertiveness skills help us find a middle ground and become more effective in our relationships. 

Assertive people are not afraid to make their needs known, but they are able to do so confidently and respectfully. They don’t apologize for their needs, but they also don’t demand that all of their needs are met. 

Assertive people are also effective at reaching negotiations that feel fair and balanced for all parties. They are willing to be flexible to meet the needs of others but don’t bend so much that they lose sight of their own needs. They maintain self-respect.

In your next interaction, ask yourself if you’re being passive, aggressive, or assertive. Look for the next two Monday Mental Health Moments on how to develop assertiveness skills!


Bethany Kriegel, LMHC, earned her master’s degree in mental health counseling from Boston College. She has experience working with adults in residential treatment settings, helping those struggling with eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among other issues.

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