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How to be Assertive and less Agreeable in Business


Have you ever felt you’re not being heard in meetings or conversations with your peers? If so, you likely need to work on your assertive communication skills. Assertiveness is a key ingredient for success in the business world, and anyone can learn it.

In this post, we’ll discuss what assertiveness is and how to develop the right attitude and communication style to express yourself effectively. We’ll also cover some tips on how to improve your self-esteem.. So let’s get started!

“agreeable men earned 18% less than disagreeable men while agreeable women earned 5% less than disagreeable women” (Workopolis)

What does assertiveness mean?

Assertiveness means you know how to communicate what you want clearly and respectfully. It means you are not afraid of speaking your mind and highly value expressing yourself in authentic and powerful ways. When you are effectively assertive, you are neither aggressive nor passive; instead, you are honest, direct, and skilled at articulating your views.

Why is assertiveness necessary in business?

Assertive managers help ensure effective communication is taking place within an organization. Assertiveness lets all parties know where they stand, and the difficult task of delivering on promises is carried out effectively.

The benefits of being assertive and decisive

  • Gain self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Gain a sense of empowerment.
  • Understand and recognize your feelings.
  • Earn respect from others.
  • Improve communication.
  • Create win-win situations.
  • Improve your decision-making skills.
  • Create honest relationships based on mutual respect.


“The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people say no to almost everything.” ― Warren Buffett


Learn how to say “No.”

Saying “no” allows you to say yes to things that are a priority to you. If you show others that you value your work, time, and preferences, contrary to what you think, they will respect you for it. Saying “no” creates healthy boundaries.

Assertive vs. Agreeable

What does it mean to be agreeable?

Agreeableness is a personality trait described as cooperative, polite, kind, and friendly. People high in agreeableness are more trusting, affectionate, generous, and generally display more prosocial behaviors than others.

Agreeableness describes a person’s tendency to put others’ needs ahead of their own and to cooperate rather than compete with others. People who are high in Agreeableness experience a great deal of empathy and tend to enjoy helping and supporting others. They are usually trusting and forgiving.

How being too agreeable is problematic & disingenuous

Agreeableness has many positive constituents, but there are some downsides. For instance, agreeable people may struggle to assert their wants, needs, and interests. They also experience difficulties in situations that require decisiveness. It can be perceived as weak by colleagues who will lose trust in one’s ability over time.

●     A 2022 survey by Acuity Training found that Over half (55%) of people say they’ve missed work opportunities by not being assertive enough.

Agreeable people are eager to avoid conflict and maintain social harmony. As a result, they will often leave the decision-making to their colleagues, even in situations where their opinion would have made a significant difference.


Agreeableness can impact your professional life in the following ways:

  • Agreeable people tend to earn less than disagreeable people
  • Agreeable people tend to overwork themselves due to an inability to delegate
  • Agreeable people are eager to avoid conflict and upset the status quo.
  • Agreeable people will suffer in silence rather than cause conflict in relationships
  • Putting the need to please others before one’s own needs can lead to health problems
  • Agreeable people can make others feel bad about themselves because they weren’t sticking to standard norms of civility
  • Passive-aggressive behavior can be perceived as disingenuous

Tips on How agreeable people can become more assertive

 We are not responsible for how people feel & react

There are just some people you won’t get along with, and that’s fine. However, we cannot and should not control how other people react to events or circumstances.

When disagreements occur, remain calm.

When you have a difference of opinion with someone, that’s okay. There is no need to convince someone to come your way; let it go.

Consider how you will be affected in the long term.

If you can’t stand up for your own opinion or best interest, nobody will. Thus, remember that passive behavior in the short term can lead to negative feelings, anxiety, and mental health issues in the long run.

Note: conflict is necessary in certain situations.

Value yourself; you deserve it.

In many instances, people can only be assertive in a negotiation if they know their own self-worth. Working on self-worth is a prerequisite to improving your self-confidence. Here are a few confidence building tips:


  • Practice saying “no” and put your priorities first
  • Practice making eye contact when speaking to people
  • Practice assertive body language (head up, chest out, shoulders square)
  • Accept compliments with grace; say “thank you”
  • Practice affirmationsin the mirror (I can, I am, I will… etc)
  • Set goals and work on achieving them (self-improvement)
  • Stop comparing yourself to other people

sShare your thoughts, even if they are different than others.

The words will flow when expressing your opinions, thoughts, and ideas versus saying ideas that will appease the group. The best assertive practice is to speak based on the truth. In addition, it is essential to face people and make eye contact. If people challenge your opinion, stay calm and repeat your opinion. An assertive response and assertive voice will lead to mutual respect.

Note: Assertive body language, facial expressions, and tone-of-voice demonstrates high self-esteem. But remember, assertive behavior should not be confused with aggressive behavior.


 “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt


The importance of decisiveness

A decisive person can make decisions quickly and not appear stressed over them. They’re confident in their choices and actions. They are often comfortable with risk, especially if it’s an informed risk.

As a result, decisive people bring confidence and efficiency that can benefit organizations. On the other hand, people who tend to be decisive sometimes grow impatient with perceived inefficiencies or delays.

Why is decisiveness necessary in business?

In business, decisiveness is key to effectively executing plans and achieving goals. Decisiveness is the ability to weigh the costs and benefits of a situation and make a decision without over-thinking. Further, this skill requires individuals to consider the most beneficial outcomes while removing emotion from the tough decisions.

Note: An assertive person is often decisive.

Practice assertive behavior with Strangers

Practice using your assertive communication skills with strangers. Talking with strangers allows you to work on your communication skills in a low stress environment. When you practice sharing opinions with strangers, you will be able to use them more effectively in work and personal situations when assertiveness skills matter. Note: be sure to focus on assertive communication skills and not aggressive with strangers.

To be effective in your personal and work life, you must become comfortable with being assertive. This means learning how to communicate what you want clearly and respectfully and standing up for your beliefs without being aggressive or passive. When everyone within an organization understands their role and can effectively communicate with one another, the difficult task of delivering on promises becomes much more manageable.

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