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Assertive Body Language


Techniques > Using Body Language > Assertive Body Language

Smooth | Balanced | Firm | Open | See also


Assertiveness is about acting in an 'adult' manner, asserting your rights without aggression and without being submissive.


Assertive body language is not jerky and tense. Nor is it held still under close control. It moves at a steady rate, indicating that the person is feeling relatively relaxed. Even when they are speaking passionately, the movement is still smooth and under control.

A smooth voice is natural and even. It goes up and down in time with the words, matching the expression. The sound is warm, friendly and melodious. Vocal volume goes up and down evenly, not suddenly becoming loud or quiet.

When the person looks around they do so in steady sweeps. They do not have eyes that dart about furtively nor do they stare nor are they downcast.


A balanced body is upright and relaxed. Bones rest on one another, held in place by gravity, rather than leaning outward and hence having to be held together with muscular strength. Both sides of the body are used, hence both hands may be used together or in balanced sequence.

A balanced voice does not go to extremes. It is not jagged nor is it monotonous. It goes up and down in a natural way that sounds honest and persuasive.


When we assert something we act as if is true. Feet are firmly planted, flat on the floor (including when sitting), typically slightly apart to provide a firm base.

Gestures are used to emphasize truths, although not in an exaggerated way. Hence the head nods, outstretched forearms bounce downwards with the point and the body may lean slightly forwards.

There is also firmness in response where the other person may attempt to dominate or avoid the point. Gentle touching may be used as encouragement and steady eye contact used to show determination. Rejection of things not wanted is done steadily and without the escalation of aggression nor with the weakness of a passive position.

Aggression is avoided, particularly in facial expressions, which are gentle and concerned yet show a determination to see things through.


The body language is open, showing no threat and fearlessly inviting response. There are no barriers across the body. Arms hang down or are held outwards. Hands are often palms-up rather than fists or placating palms down.

Eye contact is regular and appropriate. There is neither aggressive staring at the other person nor are eyes submissively downcast. There is no hiding of the face or body and barriers are removed. 

Openness includes smiling, accepting and listening. The assertive person is attentive and checks that they have understood what the other person has said. They also respond to the concerns of others, showing this in their body language.

See also

Aggressive body language, Defensive body language, Submissive body language


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