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The University of Texas at Austin - What Starts Here Changes The World The University of Texas at Austin Division of Student Affairs

Learning to Be Assertive

CMHC Business Hours:
Monday thru Friday, 8:00am - 5:00pm

Phone: (512) 471-3515 - Student Services Building 5th Floor
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Why do people avoid being assertive?
How assertive are you?
How to be assertive
The four types of assertion

What is assertiveness?

Why do people avoid being assertive?

Many people avoid being assertive because they confuse being assertive with being aggressive. Aggressiveness violates the rights of others. Assertiveness is a respectful communication of your own rights.

Another reason people avoid asserting themselves is fear of upsetting others or damaging relationships. However, avoiding assertiveness may damage relationships more in the long run, by causing feelings of resentment or mistrust to build.

Being assertive empowers you to express yourself in an honest way with others. It also allows others to know what you want or need from them, making it more likely that they will meet your needs. In other words, assertiveness can be a great tool in helping you build strong, respectful, supportive relationships with loved ones, classmates, and co-workers.

How assertive are you?

Ask yourself the following questions to get an idea of how comfortable you are being assertive.

How to be assertive

Being assertive can be difficult for many people, for many different reasons. However, all of us can benefit from knowing and respecting our own values, boundaries, and needs. If you know what you want and what you believe going into a situation, it can be easier to express yourself in a clear and assertive manner to others.

Other tips for being assertive include:


UT's Counseling & Mental Health Center (CMHC)
Call 512-471-3515 for information on setting up an appointment with a counselor.
CMHC also offers the CMHC Crisis Line: 512-471-CALL for a telephone counselor.

Additional Reading
Your Perfect Right: Assertiveness and Equality in your Life and Relationships, by Robert E. Alberti & Michael Emmons (San Luis Obispo, Impact Publishers, 2008).
Where to Draw the Line: How to Set up Healthy Boundaries Every Day, by Anne Katherine (9th ed.,New York, Fireside, 2000).
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In, by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton (2nd ed., New York, Penguin Books, 1991).

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