How To Be Assertive – The Art of Saying No

Being assertive is not aggressive and why it’s crucial for less stress and more success.

Do you need some L-plates for assertiveness? Got your “NO THANKS” training wheels on at the moment?

According to the Harvard Business Review – 96% of leaders surveyed are reported feeling extremely stressed and overloaded – 33% of those interviewed we “MAXED OUT”. Personally and commercially stretched, overwhelmed and felt it was never enough. No escape. 

A VITAL ingredient to decrease chaos in our lives and work, is to remember to make conscious choices and learn the art of politely saying NO.

There is only so much time – so we must choose wisely:

  1. Where do we spend it
  2. Who with
  3. Doing what

Practicing saying NO, setting boundaries and understanding how to honour your fundamental values system is not an instant switch.

Know your kryptonite. Work on it if it’s not your strength, learn to flex this mental muscle.

Some people I know are fantastic at it and I exasperate them with my turtle approach, others – like myself, really take a while to put it in to practice and end up having “assertiveness-tourettes “. 

This can means you could come across as aggressive or ‘too strong’ of an opinion when you first start to implement the vital element of discretionary decision making – aka “no thanks”. 

What ever the case you need to do things in your time – however it’s critical to be conscious of the following 5 Communication Mojo points: 

  1. Who we let in to our lives and business
  2. How we interact with others
  3. Mutual empowerment (aka reciprocity)
  4. Shared vision and values
  5. Honesty and trust

These are all core elements of living a life and running a business with less stress and more energy. It just takes practice and those pillars above tend to change in how we narrow down what is truly important as we grow through life and leadership. 

*Just a reminder – a leader is not defined by title – we are all leaders in life and need to be accountable for our own side of the street. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to develop new skills and identify ones that no longer serve you – just make sure you keep momentum. Believe me I am learning valuable lessons each and every day. 

Putting your saying “NO” training wheels on.

Be prepared to do your research – not only what do you want but HOW do you want to work with others, communicate, be communicated to and what is your internal culture. If you are running any size of business never underestimate the ripple effect your personality and behaviours create the culture. 

You can be Clear and you can be kind. Being assertive is VERY different from being aggressive. Chances are if it’s not already in your modus operandi (day to day way of living) it may seem like you are being a bully once you start to use clear language. 


  • Keep it simple
  • Take a moment before you answer straight away
  • Consider your core decision making reference – does this add value, is it something you have promised, is this a core responsibility or just a “Should” do
  • Be accountable
  • Be truthful – if you honour you, the answer will flow 
  • Use a clear and kind tone in writing or verbally
  • Be considerate 
  • Know where your energy is 


  • Screaming at people
  • Wait until all your buttons are pushed and you can’t take it anymore, then losing your cool completely
  • Blame – point fingers
  • Resent the situation if you put yourself there in the first place
  • Make up a story to get out of something
  • Over explain
  • Get someone else to say it for you
  • Avoid letting people know until it’s too late/put them in a state of emergency

Life is an evolution – so stop giving yourself a hard time and remember every interaction is neither good nor bad – it just will help you understand more of yourself, your own pillars of decision making and what you value the most. Lean in the learning – we never stop and it’s cool to be kind … (that also means being kind to yourself too).

**I’ll be running a LIVE WEBINAR session = on this topic – PLEASE click here if you’d like the link. 


The Mojo Maker | Personal and High Performance Coach for Leaders In Life

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Nikki Fogden-Moore Clients Corporate and Speaking