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Assertiveness: Changing Passive Responses

If you’re a passive person, it might be hard to ask for what you want or to create boundaries in your relationships. You also might notice that other people take advantage of you if they know that you will always bend or say yes. Here are two tips on moving from passive to assertive in interpersonal interactions: 

  • Stop apologizing: When we apologize for asking for what we want, we apologize for having needs. Passive people tend to over-apologize, so if you notice yourself saying sorry for everything, try to ask for something without apologizing. 

  • Practice saying no: Passive people tend to say yes to everything, even if it impedes their own needs. Though it can be difficult, it’s also important to say no. Setting boundaries allows you to respect your needs while also preventing resentment from building. 

Remember: your needs are just as important as anybody else’s, and you have every right to ask for them to be met!


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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