5 Ways To Assert Yourself Without Being ‘Assertive’

Jan 19, 2023

Somewhere along the way, “assertive” became a dirty word – especially as it pertains to women. Assertive men are considered leaders and go-getters, but often, assertive women get labeled as too bossy … or that other “b” word.

Yet, we’re coached to be more forceful at work. If we want to succeed in a male-dominated world – and a male-dominated industry like ours – we must come across as purpose-driven and confident. Some of us shy away from this advice because of the negative connotation associated with assertive, driven women. And although I personally want to encourage you to be as “bossy” as you need to be to get the job done, there are other ways you can assert yourself in the workplace beyond demeanor and delivery. Here are five:

  1. Continue That Ed.

One of the best ways to assert yourself at work is to increase your value. Consider continuing your education through professional certifications and training courses. You can even set up your own cross-training by asking if you can shadow other departments or serve on cross-functional teams that expand your overall knowledge of the business.

  1. Show, Don’t Tell.

You might have the urge to remind everyone of your strengths – especially when they’re overlooked. But it’s best to resist the desire to “tell” them and simply “show” them instead. If organization is one of your strengths, show off with color-coded spreadsheets that keep your team on track. If you have training or experience in another area, such as organizational communication, finance or something related to your customers or industry, volunteer to lead training sessions. Sharing helps those around you and spotlights your expertise

  1. Ask For More Responsibility.

Sometimes the best way to assert yourself is to raise your hand. Asking for more responsibility shows you’re intent on growing your career and leadership scope. And stepping up (and sometimes into the fire) lets management know you mean business and that you are confident you can handle it.

  1. Delegate.

Discussing delegation may seem contradictory to asking for more responsibility, but the two go hand in hand. Assertiveness is a key management characteristic because you have to confidently manage others in order to gain seniority – and purposeful delegation (and empowerment) is required to manage teams effectively.

  1. Be Your Best Cheerleader.

Nobody will believe you’re the right person for a task or position until you do. Be proud of your accomplishments – and even more so of your team’s. Make sure people know about your successes while actively applauding those of others.

There are more ways to assert confidence than just how you speak and share your opinions. It’s not about being forceful or arrogant – it’s about being persistent toward activities and opportunities that advance your career and the company’s success. Many discussions about assertiveness focus on conversation, but I invite you, instead, to focus on action. Be confident in your leadership, focus on your goals, and show your colleagues what assertiveness (and competence) is all about.

About the author:

Cara Sievers is the Content Director and Communications Strategist at channel marketing agency BuzzTheory. She’s well-versed in marketing and communications planning, journalism, editing, executive communications coaching, branding, advertising, public relations, crisis communications management, employee and partner engagement and change management. Cara’s worked for global and emerging brands, non-profits and marketing agencies, and has both written for and managed business, consumer and tech media properties.