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Assertiveness is a way of communicating that is clear and direct whilst also being calm and respectful.

People who are assertive understand their own needs and rights whilst respecting the needs and rights of others.

Importantly, assertiveness is not aggression. It is communicating in a balanced way without becoming overwhelmed by your emotions.

An author, Michael J Smith, wrote A Bill of Assertive Rights to help people to be assertive:

When might I want to be assertive?

Assertiveness can be particularly helpful in situations where you are trying to defend your rights or the rights of your family members.

Often, these circumstances involve communicating directly with professionals, which can feel intimidating or overwhelming. There can often be a power imbalance between you and the professionals. Often the professionals have all of the control and it may feel as if you have very little control over what is happening to you.

Being assertive - remaining calm, clear and respectful, whilst making your needs and expectations clear - can help to give you back some control and address the power imbalance.

You can be assertive in writing and in person. Sometimes it is easier to communicate with professionals in writing so as to keep a written record of all discussions and to give yourself the time to think before responding to any points raised.

Why might I want to be assertive?

When you are trying to defend your rights, or those of your family members, the potential seriousness of the outcome can mean that emotions can run high.

Assertiveness can help you to get your points across clearly and rationally, without becoming overwhelmed by emotions such as frustration and anger.

It is when you know there is a chance that you will become frustrated and emotional that assertiveness can help.

How can I learn to be assertive?

Very simply, there are three steps that you can follow if you want to communicate assertively:

  • Clearly explain the situation
  • Calmly explain how you feel about the situation
  • Confidently yet respectfully outline what you want

To learn more, there are lots of resources available online to help you to be assertive. We have listed some examples below but we in no way endorse these particular websites:

A table with examples of appropriate language use
A table showing the notification periods for the various sentence types. Prison sentence of 30 months or more (including life), Indefinite. Order for lifelong restriction, Indefinite. Admission to a hospital subject to a restriction order, Indefinite. Prison sentence of more than 6 months but less than 30 months, 10 years. Prison sentence of 6 months or less, 7 years. Admission to a hospital without a restriction order, 7 years. Community payback order with an offender supervision requirement, The length of the offender supervision requirement. Any other sentence (e.g. a fine or admonition), 5 years.
Last updated:
February 24, 2024


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