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Assertiveness

Assertiveness, what is it?

Imagine you drop something valuable on the ground and another person stands on it and refuses to move. If you do nothing and walk away, this is being passive. Being passive can leave you feeling angry, regretful, sad, and weak. If you are aggressive and attack the other person violently, they may move and you may get your valuable item back, but you can be left feeling guilty, angry, hurt, and sad. Worse, the other person may attack you back and the situation could become worse. Being assertive however, would be like gently, but firmly, moving the other person off your valuable item. Being assertive is good because you do not hurt the other person and you try to get what you want.

Being assertive means that when you talk to others you are polite, direct, honest and persistent.

This sounds simple, but it can be very difficult as often you have strong feelings when you need to be assertive. If you want to be assertive in difficult situations and relationships, start by being assertive today in easy situations and relationships.

Assertiveness and your study

When you need to be assertive with university staff you need to be polite by addressing people by their name and greeting them with a 'hello'. Be direct by explaining clearly what the difficulty you have is. Be honest about how the difficulty came about. Importantly, be persistent. University staff are very busy and have many people placing demands on them.

Don't take it personally if things don't happen as quickly as you would like, keep trying.

Quick tips

  • always be assertive when your relationship with the other person, or outcome is important to you
  • role play being assertive with people you already get on well with - it is a skill that needs to be learnt and practiced
  • don't give up if it doesn't seem to be working - be persistent
  • know your rights

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