Evergreen Therapeutics is dedicated to fostering healthy communication skills in our clients. This article explores the difference between assertive and aggressive communication, highlighting how assertiveness can be a powerful tool for people-pleasers.

The Assertiveness Advantage

Assertiveness is the ability to express your needs, wants, and opinions clearly, directly, and respectfully. It strikes a balance between advocating for yourself and considering the feelings of others. Assertive communication fosters positive relationships, builds self-esteem, and allows for mutually beneficial outcomes.

The Aggressive Trap

Aggression, often confused with assertiveness, prioritizes dominance over respect. Aggressive communicators use insults, intimidation, and manipulation to get their way, ultimately damaging relationships and fostering resentment. People pleasers, who often prioritize the needs of others over their own, can find themselves unintentionally slipping into passive-aggressive behavior, a frustrating and indirect form of aggression.

assertive communication

The People-Pleasing Paradox

People pleasers often struggle with assertiveness because they fear rejection or conflict. However, this constant accommodation can lead to burnout, resentment, and difficulty forming healthy relationships. By developing assertive communication skills, people pleasers can:


  • Set Healthy Boundaries: Boundaries are set based on your values. Assertiveness allows you to establish clear boundaries around your time, energy, and resources. You can comfortably say “no” to requests that don’t align with your needs.
  • Express Your Opinions: Recognize that your opinion is just as valuable as others. You deserve to have your voice heard. Assertiveness empowers you to share your ideas and perspectives confidently, fostering a sense of personal agency.
  • Command Respect: When you express yourself clearly and directly, you command respect from others. This builds self-esteem and fosters trust in relationships.
  • Reduce Resentment: By directly communicating your needs, you avoid building resentment towards those whose needs you constantly prioritize.
  • Improve Relationships: Assertive communication fosters open and honest communication, leading to stronger, more fulfilling relationships. Move yourself from the back burner to the front and see how your perception of your relationships will change.

Developing Your Assertive Voice

Developing assertiveness takes practice, but the benefits are countless. An assertive communicator will clearly state their needs and wants, speak at an appropriate volume while making eye contact, have a steady voice and confident body language, and listen to others without interrupting them.

Here are some tips to strengthen your assertive communication skills:

  • “I” Statements: Use “I” statements to express your needs and feelings without blaming others. For example, “I feel overwhelmed when I have too many deadlines at once” is more assertive than “You’re giving me too much work!”
  • Focus on Solutions: Don’t just identify problems; propose solutions. This shows initiative and fosters collaboration.
  • Practice Makes Progress: Role-playing challenging situations can help you build confidence in expressing yourself assertively. Planning what you’re going to say is another helpful strategy before entering a conversation. Create specific sentences and words that you can use in the moment.
  • Boundaries: Be aware of your values and don’t be afraid to say “no” when you need to. Regardless of your efforts, you cannot make everyone happy all the time. With clarity and honesty, say “no” and offer other solutions or compromise where possible.


Assertiveness is not about being pushy or demanding. It’s about finding your voice and advocating for yourself with respect. By developing assertive communication skills, people pleasers can build healthier relationships, improve their self-esteem, and live more fulfilling lives. If you’re struggling with assertiveness, consider reaching out to a therapist at Evergreen Therapeutics. We can help you develop the tools and confidence you need to communicate effectively and live authentically.

If you or someone you know is looking to begin online therapy and you reside in Ontario, Canada, please do not hesitate to contact us at admin@evergreentherapeutics.ca. We offer a team of psychotherapists who treat a variety of mental health concerns with individuals, couples, and families. Visit our website www.evergreentherapeutics.ca for more information.