The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines assertiveness as “disposed to or characterized by bold or confident statements and behavior.” In other words, an assertive person can express their thoughts, feelings, and needs openly and honestly. More than that, they also respect the rights and opinions of others.
However, assertiveness training will take time and effort. This is why it’s a good idea to read the 15 best books on assertiveness in the workplace. I’m going to list and review these books for you, as well as explain why assertiveness is so important in the workplace. So let’s get to it!
Why Assertiveness Is Important in the Workplace
If you don’t see the value of assertive communication at work, you will never work on your assertiveness skills. This is why it’s crucial to understand the importance. Here are some reasons why an assertive communication skill is essential:
- It helps resolve conflicts. One of the best ways to resolve work conflicts is to communicate effectively. Assertive communication allows you to express your thoughts and concerns in a direct but respectful way.
- It helps you win the respect of others. If you’re open and honest, you’ll create a positive environment of trust with the people around you, whether that is your employer, manager, or coworkers.
- It helps boost your confidence. Assertiveness lets you express your ideas and needs. In turn, this will increase your confidence in your abilities and contributions at work.
- It helps you set boundaries. That’s right, you can be assertive and still win the respect of others. But it’s not just that. Assertiveness allows you to maintain healthy boundaries, such as managing workload and preventing burnout.
- It helps with career advancement. If you’re an assertive person, you can usually land leadership roles as that is one skill that good leaders possess.
Ivna Curi, the founder of Assertive Way Institute, says:
“Assertiveness is a little-known yet life-changing communication skill and empowerment tool that helps people speak up for themselves and speak their minds unapologetically in a respectful and anxious-free way.”
“Assertiveness also includes the skills of saying no and establishing boundaries, giving and receiving feedback, expressing views and feelings, and advocating for yourself.”
The 15 Best Assertiveness Books to Add to Your Reading List
Here is a list of the 15 best books on assertiveness in the workplace:
- Assertiveness at Work: A Practical Guide to Handling Awkward Situations.
- The Power of a Positive No: How to Say NO and Still Get to A YES.
- The Keys to Being Brilliantly Confident and More Assertive.
- When I Say No, I Feel Guilty.
- Did You Say Something, Susan?: How Any Woman Can Gain Confidence with Assertive Communication.
- Alpha Assertiveness Guide for Men and Women.
- The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself at Work and in Relationships.
- Thanks for the feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well.
- Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High.
- The Art of Everyday Assertiveness: Speak Up. Say No. Set Boundaries. Take Back Control.
- Assertiveness: How to Stand Up for Yourself and Still Win the Respect of Others.
- Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion.
- Your Perfect Right: Assertiveness and Equality in Your Life and Relationships
- Not Nice: Stop People Pleasing, Staying Silent, & Feeling Guilty… And Start Speaking Up, Saying No, Asking Boldly, And Unapologetically Being Yourself.
- Assertiveness: How to Be Strong in Every Situation.
1. Assertiveness at Work: A Practical Guide to Handling Awkward Situations
“Assertiveness at Work: A Practical Guide to Handling Awkward Situations” was written by Ken Back. It garnered a 4.7-star rating on Amazon and a 3.8-star rating on Goodreads.
This book is a great read for managers looking for assertive ways to minimize conflict and stress and optimize management effectiveness. It helps these managers self-train assertiveness through familiar working situations. What’s more, it isn’t rocket science.
2. The Power of a Positive No: How to Say NO and Still Get to A YES
“The Power of a Positive No: How to Say NO and Still Get to A YES” was the #1 recommended assertiveness book by Ivna Curi. This book boasts a star rating of 4.6 on Amazon and 4 on Goodreads.
The author, William Ury, is an academic man and co-founder of the Program on Negotiation for Harvard. In his book, he shows you that saying no is a negotiation strategy. He also breaks the different meanings of ‘NO”, gives common reactions to the word ‘NO’, and helps you deal with all that.
3. The Keys to Being Brilliantly Confident and More Assertive
Richard Banks, a personal development and leadership coach for 20 years, published his book “The Keys to Being Brilliantly Confident and More Assertive” in 2020. It has a 4-star rating on Amazon and 3.4 stars on Goodreads.
If you want to focus more on assertive language and communication, this book helps a lot. It’s easy to follow as it breaks down the specific techniques to become more assertive. It also gives you actionable steps to assertiveness.
4. When I Say No, I Feel Guilty
Written by Manuel J. Smith, “When I Say No, I Feel Guilty” is one of the best-selling books on assertiveness. Out of 1,333 reviews on Amazon, it has a whopping 4.4-star rating. It was also a stand out in Goodreads, receiving 4 stars out of 2,475 reviews.
This book isn’t about the workplace specifically. However, it has a lot of great insights that you can use in the workplace. The best part is that it isn’t complex at all. You’ll learn useful and practical ways to effectively communicate your needs and cope with people from every stage of your life.
5. Did You Say Something, Susan?: How Any Woman Can Gain Confidence with Assertive Communication
Looking for the best assertiveness guide for women? Then look no further than “Did You Say Something, Susan?: How Any Woman Can Gain Confidence with Assertive Communication” written by Paulette Dale Ph.D. With a 4.9 review on Amazon and a 4.5 review on Goodreads, you can trust that it’s a great way to promote assertiveness for women.
If you’re a shy, quiet, soft-spoken, or overlooked woman, this book will help you find the courage to speak up for yourself. You’ll be given example dialogues, exercises, and tips.
6. Alpha Assertiveness Guide for Men and Women
This book is written by Gerard Shaw. The “Alpha Assertiveness Guide for Men and Women” is rated 4.3 stars both on Amazon and Goodreads.
It’s a great book if you struggle with many responsibilities and want to learn how to be assertive and say ‘NO’ effectively. It also helps you find confidence through a personal strengths guide and a self-assessment questionnaire.
7. The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself at Work and in Relationships
OK, say you prefer a workbook to an actual book. If so, then “The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself at Work and in Relationships” is a great pick. It has 4.6 stars on Amazon and 4.1 stars on Goodreads. Moreover, it is one of the top ‘how to be more assertive books’ written by a psychologist.
Randy J. Patterson, Ph.D. and psychologist, gives a practical workbook that’s quick and useful. You’ll find practice exercises, tips, and mindsets to help people who struggle with assertiveness. Don’t worry, it has a lot of bullet points for readability.
8. Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well
“Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well” has a different focus. From the name alone, you can already guess what that is. Authors Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen garnered 4.6-star reviews on Amazon and 4.1-star reviews on Goodreads.
In this book, you’ll learn all about feedback, including appreciation, evaluation, and coaching. You’ll also learn how to ask for feedback, how to handle criticism, when to accept negative feedback, and how to take advantage of that. It will help you through the difficult situations of feedback.
9. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High
Since assertiveness has a lot to do with communication, you can learn many things from “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High“. Sure, it isn’t specifically about assertiveness, but it will help those with a lack of assertiveness. The book offers 4.6 stars on Amazon and 4.1 stars on Goodreads.
After reading this book, you’ll know how to handle difficult conversations. It provides a framework for how to get people to talk to you when they become defensive due to hard conversations. These lessons are great to learn, whether for work or your personal life.
10. The Art of Everyday Assertiveness: Speak Up. Say No. Set Boundaries. Take Back Control
If the title has everything you’re looking for, then pick up a copy of “The Art of Everyday Assertiveness: Speak Up. Say No. Set Boundaries. Take Back Control” right away. With a 4.5-star rating on Amazon and a 4-star rating on Goodreads, people like the fact that this book comes from the personal experience of the author, Patrick King.
Plus, this is not just any book. It’s more like an exercise book where you record your people-pleasing behaviors, set goals to overcome those, and more. You’ll read through King’s 28-day Assertiveness Action Plan. You will be able to identify your people-pleasing behavior and get rid of it after reading this great book.
11. Assertiveness: How to Stand Up for Yourself and Still Win the Respect of Others
Looking for an easy read? Try out “Assertiveness: How to Stand Up for Yourself and Still Win the Respect of Others” by Judy Murphy. It has 4.4 ratings on Amazon and 3.8 ratings on Goodreads.
Here, Murphy gives you a classification tool. With this, you’ll be able to class your daily behaviors into “passive” or “assertive”. This will give you a clear picture of how assertive you are.
Of course, that’s not the only thing you’ll learn. You also get practical strategies to express your needs in a clear and healthy way, both in a group or with individuals.
12. Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion
“Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion” is the mastermind of George J. Thompson, a policeman, black belt master, Ph.D., and non-violent communication training business owner. This book has 4.6 stars on Amazon and 3.8 stars on Goodreads.
Thompson had one very specific personality trait in mind when he wrote the book — an aggressive and dominant person. In the book, Thompson describes the psychology of aggressive behaviors. He then teaches readers how to assert themselves without aggression. If this is something you’re struggling with, it will really help you see the gentle art of persuasion.
13. Your Perfect Right: Assertiveness and Equality in Your Life and Relationships
“Your Perfect Right: Assertiveness and Equality in Your Life and Relationships” was the joint work of Robert E. Alberti and Michael L. Emmons. Both Alberti and Emmons are some of the first founders of assertiveness training, so you can trust that they know what they’re talking about. The book has 4.4-star reviews on Amazon and 3.7-star reviews on Goodreads.
They cover assertiveness in personal relationships (whether at home or in the workplace). They also discuss where the lack of assertiveness comes from. This will help you learn more and more about assertiveness.
14. Not Nice: Stop People Pleasing, Staying Silent, & Feeling Guilty… And Start Speaking Up, Saying No, Asking Boldly, And Unapologetically Being Yourself
“Not Nice: Stop People Pleasing, Staying Silent, & Feeling Guilty… And Start Speaking Up, Saying No, Asking Boldly, And Unapologetically Being Yourself” is a very long title. However, it gives you a good idea of what you’ll get from the book. Readers seem to like it as it has a 4.6 rating on Amazon and a 4 rating on Goodreads.
This is a very enjoyable book as it reads more like a story instead of an exercises to develop assertiveness. Dr. Aziz Gazipura gets personal about his life as a people-pleaser.
He takes you along in his “nice guy” phase, the problems he faced because of that, and how he helped himself set healthy boundaries and become more assertive, confident, and authentic. His story will surely inspire you.
15. Assertiveness: How to Be Strong in Every Situation
“Assertiveness: How to Be Strong in Every Situation” has 4.1-star ratings on Amazon and 3.4-star ratings on Goodreads. This book provides a practical guide on how to take control of your life, as well as transform your relationships. It will help you overcome the challenges you face every day.
Husband and wife authors, Conrad and Suzanne Potts, take you through all aspects of life, including work life, family life, and social life. You’ll read about many examples of struggles you may face if you’re assertive. What’s more, you can skip to the sample situations that apply to YOU.
If you’re looking for the best books on assertiveness in the workplace, then consider the 15 that I provided here. All these books will tell you everything you need to know about assertiveness – where it comes from, how to overcome it, how to use it wisely, and much more.
You’ll certainly become a better and more successful person at the workplace if you take the time to read one, a few, or all of the books listed here. Happy reading!