Stand Your Ground - How To Be Assertive Without Being Combative

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Learn how to stand your ground: how to be assertive without being combative. You can politely stand your ground and be firm and assertive without being combative, aggressive or confrontational.

In communication, perception is everything.

What you might view as honest communication, others might consider rude.

And what others consider respectful deference, could seem to you like being spineless.

Whatever the case, at the end of the day, we want others to respect our point of view.

So the question becomes: how do we strike the balance between being assertive without offending the people around us? 

In other words, how can we stand our ground politely?

If that’s a question you’ve asked yourself lately, you’ll want to stick around and be sure to catch our pro-tip at the end. 

Yes, it can be challenging to strike the right balance of being assertive while being respectful.

But it’s important to make ourselves heard so that people take us seriously and acknowledge what we have to say. In other words, there are times where we need to stand up for ourselves and stand our ground.

With that in mind, let’s discuss some strategies for doing that without offending people:

1) Strike the Right Tone

The first thing you can do to politely stand your ground is to use a soft tone of voice. 

A softer tone demonstrates that you don't mean to be combative, which puts the person at ease. They don’t perceive what you’re saying as rude or aggressive.

A calm tone is also pleasing to the ear. It’s hard to get angry at someone who is speaking pleasantly. And it compels the other person to listen more closely so they don’t miss what you are saying.

And despite what you might think, you can be assertive while maintaining a soft tone.

In fact, a soft tone demonstrates that you are so confident in what you are saying that you don’t need to raise your voice to scare the other person into listening to you.

To find the right level of softness, target your power pitch – which is the tone of voice you use when you know what you are talking about – and soften it ever so slightly.

With a soft tone, staying calm and persistent is the goal.

2) Leverage Facts versus Opinions

Another way to politely stand your ground is to clearly distinguish between facts and opinions.

No one can argue with facts, even if they unsettling or inconvenient.

And contrast the facts with your own opinions. Once you’ve laid out the facts, let them know your opinion about what action should be taken in light of the facts.

By clearly delineating what is fact and what is opinion, you establish a foundation of transparency and trust, which makes the listener more amenable to what you have to say.

That’s why logic is a powerful tool in the art of persuasion. If you can present your points and back them up with evidence, then they have no reason to be angry at you. The facts are objective. You’re just the messenger delivering the wake-up call.

And if they take issue with your opinions, that’s fine. They are welcome to suggest a different interpretation. As long as they respect the facts.

This approach is particularly important in business, where the quality of a strategic decision is rooted in the quality of the data backing that decision.

Now are you ready for your bonus pro tip?

3) Stress the Collective

When you are presenting your position on a topic, particularly if it is a controversial position, make sure to frame your reasoning in the context of the collective.

In other words, make it clear that your objective isn’t to enrich yourself or make yourself look better, or them look worse. To the contrary, your goal is to maximize the benefit to the team, company, or partnership as a whole.

Stress that this is bigger than the two of you. It’s not about the individual. It’s about the mutual benefit of the collective.

This approach ensures that the listener doesn’t take personal offense to anything you are saying. It also demonstrates that everyone is on the same team and on the same page.


Alright, there you have it. Three powerful ways to politely stand your ground.

Let's quickly recap:

  1. Mind your tone. Target one step down from your power tone. This will prime the listener to actually hear what you have to say and proves you don’t need to yell to be heard.
  2. Clearly distinguish between facts and opinions. One is objective. One is subjective. The listener will appreciate you clarifying which is which, and that sets a strong foundation of trust upon which you can present your argument and have a productive conversation.
  3. Stress the collective. Make it clear that this is bigger than you or them. It’s about the mutual benefit of the team, company, or partnership. This gets everyone on the same page and orients the conversation toward a mutually beneficial outcome.

The best part about these strategies is that they are highly synergistic, meaning they work great in combination with each other. They are stronger together than on their own.

So use all of them and start standing your ground without fear of offending anyone!

So now that I've shared our thoughts, I’d love to hear your own ideas for politely standing your ground. How do you balance being assertive and being respectful? How to you ensure that your voice is heard without appearing overbearing?

Share that with me and the Explearning community in the comments down below.

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With that, have an awesome week, Explearners. 

Thank you so much for joining me and I’ll see you next time for your next Explearning lesson.

Happy Explearning ⚡