Assertive personality : meaning and example

Assertive personality: good or bad? You be the judge! This article will tell you what you need to know regarding those types of personalities.

Team Building

Christine Chartrand

VP Consulting Services

Monday, June 06, 2022


Have you ever faced a challenging decision when dealing with assertive individuals and their behavior in communication? Do you often wonder whether having an assertive personality is a blessing or a curse? If so, you're not alone! In this blog post, we delve deep into the intriguing world of assertive personalities, shedding light on their true essence and the impact they can have in various spheres of life.

Encountering individuals with assertive personalities is practically inevitable, whether at work or in your personal relationships. Despite the mixed reputation they might carry, these individuals possess remarkable qualities that can prove immensely beneficial in specific situations, especially when it comes to decision-making and effective communication.

Are your past encounters with assertive personalities shaping your perceptions? Perhaps you've even been labeled with an assertive personality and are eager to understand its implications fully, including how it influences behavior and interactions. If that's the case, you've likely already expressed your thoughts on the matter!

Embark on an insightful journey with AtmanCo as we delve into the concept of assertive personalities. Explore how their behavior and communication styles can impact various aspects of life, including decision-making and relationships. Join us in demystifying this intriguing topic.

What Exactly is an Assertive Personality?

An assertive personality refers to an individual who is confident in expressing their thoughts, feelings, and needs in a respectful and clear manner. Such individuals are adept at standing up for themselves and advocating for their rights without being overly aggressive or passive. They are assertive communicators, which allows them to maintain healthy boundaries, make decisions, and engage in constructive interactions with others.

Big Five: What Does it Mean in Psychology and Psychometrics

The Big Five personality model is a research-driven approach in psychology which derives from the notion that the most common personality traits can be captured by five core dimensions:

  1. Openness to Experience
  2. Conscientiousness
  3. Extroversion
  4. Agreeableness
  5. Neuroticism (O-C-E-A-N as a useful mnemonic)

Then again, if you have ever read the description of what being assertive means, one may also look under the Agreeableness factor and see assertive behavior with people obtaining lower scores in certain facets under this scale.

Confused yet?

Ok. To make it simpler, and because the theory behind such a personality trait may leave you asking for more tangible information, let’s talk about what tendencies and behaviours an assertive personality type might bring to the workplace.

Degrees of assertiveness

A woman with a assertive personality speaking in public

Now, some of you might not agree. I like to look at the assertive personality on a scale, as opposed to a simple black-and-white answer resembling “you are assertive” or “you are NOT assertive”.

I, myself, don't find my natural reflexes as being assertive or not, but perhaps a "tendency" towards the assertive side. I am able to confront and claim my rights in a more direct way. However, in certain situations, it's even harder for me to give my point of view and I make concessions.

If you were to label me “assertive” altogether, I’m not sure I’d agree. I know people that are FAR more assertive than I am and I, in no way, fall under the same category.

So I think it makes sense to look at it on a spectrum.

Assertive personality: Strengths uncovered

If you’ve had a bad experience with an assertive person, you may want to look at your own personality. Are you assertive too, thus capable of putting forth your views just as much as him/her, but in the end, your views were different therefore causing friction? Or maybe you are at the complete opposite end. A very conciliate person who dislikes confrontation but were met face-to-face with an assertive person who had no trouble expressing their thoughts?

Either way, remember that assertive doesn’t necessarily mean aggressive! They are different things.

An assertive personality has many strengths, such as:

  • self-assurance
  • confidence in expressing their views and disagreements
  • defending their rights
  • even taking the lead or directing

These assertive types of individuals are often skilled negotiators, able to handle stressful situations with ease. They have the courage to speak up and clearly express their expectations while also standing firm in defending their ideas. The ability to navigate stress effectively is one of the key attributes of assertive personalities.

In fact, you’ll probably appreciate someone with an assertive personality more if they are on your side.

5 Reasons Why Personality at Work is Important!

Let’s face it: spending 8 hours daily with colleagues means your relationships aren't determined by their experiences or education.… but by their personalities!

Assertive personality: The other side of the coin

I’m going to be real with you, there’s always a flipside to each personality trait, and the assertive personality is no exception.

In certain situations, they may need to develop their capacity to choose their battles, as everything is up for discussion. The way they communicate may also come across as direct to some colleagues. They would benefit at times from learning how to soften their approach, suggest instead of impose, and accept to be told what to do. When assertive becomes aggressive, it can become counterproductive for all involved.

To be more effective, someone with an assertive personality should find that balance of being self-confident and influential, without being menacing. It's essential for them to embody this attitude in their body language and communication style. And not every assertive person succeeds at this.

Working with an assertive personality

A man with a assertive personality speaks to his colleagues

If you have to manage or work on a project with a person who you think would score very high on the assertive personality scale, there are things you can do to benefit from this strength, and keep your sanity at the same time.

#1 – Remember that this person has no problem articulating their needs

So you might as well make it a point to ask for their opinion, outlook and direction on the matter at hand, because you’ll probably hear about it anyways. At least this way, you have some control over WHEN.

And don’t assume that because they have an opinion about just about anything, that it isn’t valid. Assertive people can bring a lot of substance and interesting point of views, but some disregard them as being unnecessary because of the way it comes out.

#2 – Try not to take things personally

With a high assertive personality, which can often be associated with dealing with aggressive people, comes the capacity to express negative thoughts. So just because you are on the receiving end of criticism or a disagreement, doesn't mean that person is out to get you.

Of course, it’s all in the way he chooses to convey such a message. But the point is, he will convey it.

So you have to understand your own personality to determine how you will receive it. Are you one to explode in the moment? Accumulate your frustrations? Perhaps you fight fire with fire? The important thing is to explore your own fight or flight tendencies, because someone with an assertive personality might bring them out.

11 Employee Personality Traits you Want to Know

Personality, personality, personality! That seems to be the only word we hear when talking about human resources management. Whenever anyone talks about job-fit, cultural-fit, conflict resolution, and even team productivity, personality always ends up taking center stage. Sure, personality is important. It makes sense, anyway; certain personalities make an individual more suitable for a certain job, company, and team.

#3 – Sometimes working with someone to-the-point can save a lot of time

…and energy! Considering it from another perspective, one might find it rather invigorating to be aware that assertive individuals:

  • will openly express their disagreements
  • critique certain work methods
  • share their opinions

This openness and directness can be quite refreshing.

This type of transparency can sometimes be quite positive. You’re not likely going to need to guess with this person or shake him and say “come out with it, already!”. You can continue working knowing that he will not shy away from sharing with you what needs to be said, when it needs to be said.

An individual with assertive personality traits has many strengths, such as:

  • self-assurance
  • confidence in expressing their views and disagreements
  • defending their rights
  • taking the lead or directing, especially in difficult situations

Understand your own personality in order to determine your compatibility with such people, and try not to take things personally when faced with difficult situations. Is an assertive personality ideal for the positions you are hiring for?

In conclusion, working with an assertive personality can be beneficial if you seek their input, value their opinions, and avoid taking things personally. Embrace their directness as it can save time and energy, leading to positive outcomes in projects. Understanding your own communication style is essential for effective interactions. At AtmanCo, we offer insights into employee personality traits and ways to foster happiness and productivity in the workplace. Explore our other articles for valuable advice and best practices.


Can assertiveness be learned, or is it an inherent trait?

Assertiveness can be learned and developed over time; it is not solely an inherent trait. Through practice, self-awareness, and adopting assertive communication techniques, individuals can enhance their assertiveness skills and become more confident in expressing their needs and opinions while respecting others' boundaries.

How can one develop or improve their assertiveness skills?

To develop or improve assertiveness skills, one can practice expressing their needs and opinions confidently and respectfully. Setting clear boundaries, actively listening to others, and using "I" statements to communicate assertively can also be effective strategies. Regularly seeking opportunities to practice assertiveness in various social situations will further strengthen this skill.

How can assertiveness positively impact relationships with others, including family, friends, and colleagues?

Assertiveness can positively impact relationships by fostering open communication and mutual respect. It allows individuals to express their needs and boundaries confidently, leading to healthier and more understanding interactions with family, friends, and colleagues.

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