10 ways to be more assertive at work

We are delighted to welcome another guest contributor to the Anne Corder Recruitment blog – Melanie Coeshott: a career coach at Blue Diamond, a consultancy empowering mid-career professionals to take control of their work and life. Melanie helps her clients either rediscover passion in their work or to find their next challenge, sometimes by doing something completely different.

Keep reading to get some tips from Melanie on achieving assertiveness at work, and if you would like to learn more from Melanie make sure you take a look at our Events page where you’ll find information about our Lunch & Learn sessions, which aims to dive deeper into the subject.

How is it that some people seem to get exactly what they want, whereas others just don’t?

The answer is simple – assertiveness.

Assertiveness is a subtle art, which some people seem to master naturally. The rest of us muddle our way through, acting in unassertive ways for much of the time. Sometimes things go our way, but that is somewhat due to chance.

The great news is that assertiveness skills and can be learned and enhanced.

What is assertiveness?

Assertiveness is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive.

It means standing up for our personal rights: expressing our thoughts, feelings and beliefs in direct, honest & appropriate ways.

Assertiveness also strives to respect the thoughts, feelings & beliefs of other people.

However, it’s often misunderstood and confused with other communication responses i.e. aggression, passiveness and passive aggression.

Assertiveness versus other interactive styles

Aggression is typically directed towards someone else. Their rights and self-esteem are undermined in the process.

This is responding in a passive or non-assertive way, for example simply complying with the wishes of others. It can undermine individual rights & self-confidence.

This is characterised by a pattern of indirect resistance to the demands or requests of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation.

Standing up for our personal rights – expressing thoughts, feelings & beliefs in direct, honest & appropriate ways. It also strives to respect the thoughts, feelings & beliefs of other people.

Importance of assertiveness

There are many reasons why being assertive can be beneficial.

Assertiveness can improve our own self-awareness, helping to understand our strengths and weaknesses, but also what we are looking to achieve from a given situation. It helps to ensure our needs are understood and improves the chance of having them met. It can improve our understanding of other people, enabling better communication and often also improving relationships as a result.

Further benefits include increasing our self-confidence and reducing stress.

When acting assertively, we feel confident, empowered, energised, self-assured, in control, respected and heard.

So, do you believe you could benefit from being more assertive?

10 Ways to be more assertive

Many of us could do with boosting our assertiveness in different situations. Why not try these ideas:

1. Take responsibility for your communication responses
2. Identify and model others who act assertively
3. Build your personal self-awareness
4. Know what you want and set clear outcomes
5. Look at the situation to understand different perspectives
6. Set your environment to give you the best chance of success
7. Be clear and concise
8. Rehearse conversations
9. Stay calm
10. Remain respectful


Assertiveness is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive.

It ensures our needs are understood and improves the chance of having them met. It can improve our understanding of others, enable better communication and can improve relationships as a result.

The great news is that assertiveness is a muscle that can be strengthened. What steps will you take to enhance yours?


Alex Smith

Recruitment Specialist

I’ve worked in recruitment for the same agency for over 12 years, covering finance, office support, construction, and engineering. Temp and perm. Previously, my line of work was within banking and estate agency.
Favourite food: “Curry (Hot)”
Favourite film: “Heat”

Outside of work

“Gym 5 days a week. Home life consists mostly of entertaining a 3 year old! (for clarification – my son)”

Alex on ACR

“Very refreshing to work for a recruitment agency that genuinely care for their candidates and clients”

E: alex@annecorder.co.uk
T: 01733 235298

Sarah-Jane Bond

Recruitment Specialist

I have spent the majority of my career working in Operational and Project Management roles. I first worked with ACR about 25 years ago as a candidate. ACR secured me a role at RNIB, where I stayed for 15 years, finishing as Head of Operations. Recruitment has always been a big part of the roles I have undertaken and is something that I really enjoy. When you match a fantastic candidate with the right client there is no better feeling!
Favourite food: “Has to be any dish from the Mediterranean”
Favourite film: “There are many, love a chick flick, especially ‘The Holiday at Christmas”

Outside of work

“I love socialising with friends, can always squeeze a bit of retail therapy in around volunteering at Deeping Rangers FC, running their hospitality on match days.”

Sarah-Jane on ACR

“I couldn’t have been more delighted when Nel asked me to join the company and have felt at home since day one. They really do care about providing the best service for their clients and candidates, building genuine relationships with both. The team culture is second to none, everyone supporting and looking out for each other. It is a pleasure to come to work every day.”

E: sarah-jane@annecorder.co.uk
T: 01733 235298

Emily Roach

Recruitment Specialist

Emily was a Primary School Teacher for 10 years, before moving into the EdTech space, as a Relationship Specialist for MATs. She joined ACR in July 2023 and particularly thrives when recruiting for Account Management, Customer Service and Sales roles.
Favourite food:
“Spag bol or pizza”
Favourite film:
“The Notebook – or any romantic chick flick really!”
Outside of work
“I have a 1-year-old, so love fun family weekends with my fiancé and son more than anything. Time socialising with friends and family is where I’m happiest.”
Emily on ACR
“The unique culture, values, and style at ACR is polar opposite to other recruitment agencies and what I believed recruitment was. Having previously been a Relationship Specialist, I feel I’m doing the same thing! No hard sell, we truly care about our candidates and clients, and the team culture is 2nd to none!”
E: emily@annecorder.co.uk
T: 01733 235298

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