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Assertiveness Strategies

By on October 10, 2012

Last week’s presidential debate between President Obama and Governor Romney inspired this article. Among those who watched the television debate almost unanimously said that Governor Romney won this debate, including some President Obama supporters. Some say the president seemed to lack of assertiveness.  I agree that performance was not Obama-like, as he has shown his assertiveness on numerous prior occasions.

There is a difference between being assertive and aggressive.

Assertiveness is the concept of establishing boundary or authority. It’s an expression of  confidence. Aggressive behavior commonly includes a level of hostility and/or disregard for another persons boundary.

While some believe Obama was less assertive than usual it could be argued that Romney may have demonstrated a level of aggression.

Here some strategies, that are based on research, that will help to improve social skills:

  1. Act As If– This strategy  allows an individual to “act as if” he/she is someone who is very capable of handling a challenging situation, in this case the challenging situation being showing assertiveness.  Research shows, that children have been able to cope with medical treatment by pretending to be their favorite superhero. This can work for adults by “acting as if” they are an admired friend or college who exhibits lots of assertiveness.

  2. Modeling– This strategy allows people to identify qualities that make someone successful and pick up their positive behavior.  The person that lacks assertiveness can observe people who are talented public speakers, presents new ideas at the workplace, or engages in quality conversation at social gatherings and emulate those behaviors.

  3. Shaping- This strategy allows for a gradual change in behavior. In my studies, I found a great example for those who lack in assertiveness. In social gatherings one can try these approaches.

  • Spend 5 to 10 minutes at a social gathering. Do not initiate any conversations.

  • Spend 5 to 10 minutes at a social gathering and greet at least 2 people.

  • Spend 5 to 20 minutes at a social gathering, greet at least 2 people, introduce yourself to at least one person, and ask a question of one other person.

  • Follow the previous steps, and in addition, have a brief conversation about the weather and compliment the host on the food.

You cannot be a leader in sports, business, politics or even life without showing some level of assertiveness.  To those that lack assertiveness, these strategies can help you develop skills in getting more of what you and want and having less of your boundaries encroached upon.


Mr. George Stewart II is a full-time certified teacher in Texas who began his career as a teacher’s aide. He’s a  certified Fatherhood Practitioner and Healthy Relationships Educator.


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