Assertiveness is the ability to acknowledge other people’s opinions and express your thoughts and stand up for yourself and others calmly, without being confrontational. Being assertive is about being heard.  

It can be difficult to be assertive when our self-esteem is low, as we can worry that others will not listen or that voicing our opinions will change very little. For example, postgraduate students may need to be assertive with labs and deadlines to ensure their project is kept on track.

If we struggle to be assertive, we can be left feeling helpless, unheard, or angry. This can cause further issues such as anxiety or low mood and could result in things getting worse.

Counsellors frequently use the concept of the ‘Assertiveness Bill of Rights’ to affirm the positive nature of assertiveness. It’s a series of personal statements, which we can learn to apply to our lives to boost our self-worth, self-esteem and our ability to be more appropriately assertive.

What support do we offer?

Student Services can work collaboratively with you to help you develop your assertiveness skills, whether that be with flatmates or in a professional setting. You can access guided self-help or meet with a practitioner one-to-one to discuss this and find the most appropriate level of support. You can email to talk about further support.

Alternative Internal Support 

You can access self-help through various University channels such as:

  • ShelfHelp, which has an eBooks that can help you develop your assertiveness.
  • SilverCloud, the Space for Stress has a module to help develop problem solving and assertive communication.
  • TogetherAll - a safe, online community where people support each other anonymously to improve mental health and wellbeing. (This service will be available until February 2023. After this time, we recommend students reach out to SHOUT).

External Resources

If you would like to access some self-help materials here are a list of alternative support resources.