18 Phrases Confident People Use When They Want to Be Assertive But Not Rude

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By Darryl Henderson

Confidence can easily come across as arrogance if you’re not communicating in the correct way. Confident people often choose their words very carefully in order to put their point across politely. With this in mind, they often use these 18 phrases, which show assertiveness but not rudeness.

‘I understand where you’re coming from.’

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You can still be an assertive person and stand by your own viewpoint while empathizing with another person’s opinion. This choice of phrase shows that you’ve taken their thoughts and feelings into account despite the fact that you might not be willing to change your stance.

‘Let’s find common ground.’

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Confident people often have a few strategies for finding common ground with people they disagree with. According to Bryce Purnell via LinkedIn, asking open-ended questions can be one way that they might do that. Confident people use this phrase because it focuses on finding a way forward rather than clashing.

‘I view the situation differently.’

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It isn’t rude to express that you have a different opinion, yet it can be considered rude if you share your opinion in an obstinate way. This phrase allows you to explain why you view the situation differently and opens up a respectful dialogue about differing perspectives.

‘I appreciate your effort.’

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If a confident person is in a position of authority where they’re required to give feedback, assertiveness doesn’t dictate that they have to dismiss efforts if the results aren’t what they wanted. You can encourage things to be improved upon while also expressing gratitude for what was tried before.

‘I respect your opinion.’

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Respecting someone’s opinion doesn’t mean that you have to agree with it. Confident and assertive people often use this phrase to highlight that they’re still open to a collaborative and positive relationship despite discussing differing opinions.

‘I would just like to add-’

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Using this phrase highlights that you take into account – and respect – what the other person has already said. It respectfully asserts your own opinion as an additional comment. This is seen as more polite than simply stating your opinion as though it cancels out what has just been said.

‘I suggest we-’

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The success of this assertive phrase mainly comes from the choice of collaborative language. Using ‘we’ instead of ‘you’ or ‘I’ means that you still consider it a collaborative task and value working together. It also opens up a dialogue for others to make suggestions.

‘Let’s look at the facts.’

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Harvard Business Review explains that making assumptions “limits our effectiveness because it prevents us from fully understanding the situation”. Focusing on facts helps to avoid personal assumptions and stick to evidence. It’s more difficult to be rude when expressing facts rather than opinions.

‘I believe we can both agree to that.’

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This phrase reinforces common ground and that you welcome collaboration. It encourages a shared belief and leads towards a resolution you can find together. This is a much politer phrase to use rather than outright saying, ‘I don’t agree with that,’ as it instead offers an alternative.

‘My understanding is-’

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Using this phrase allows you to present your opinion based on how you’ve understood it. The reason this sounds more polite is because it’s open to interpretation and also highlights that you’re welcome to be proven wrong if you’ve misunderstood. It sounds more constructive and open-minded.

‘This is what I need from you.’

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Trying to avoid being rude doesn’t mean that you can’t clearly assert what you need. You can ask for things, but the focus should be on asking respectfully. Psychology Today explains that being assertive includes “the right to ask for help”.

‘I’m open to suggestions.’

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Being open to suggestions doesn’t mean that you have to change your mind or avoid standing firm on what you’ve decided. It does, however, show that you respect the opinions of others. Using this phrase encourages people to come forward and share their ideas without fear of being judged.

‘Could you elaborate on that?’

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Asking someone to elaborate not only shows that you’re interested in what they have to say, but it also demonstrates that you want as deep an understanding as possible. This sort of phrase encourages a more detailed discussion, which can help others feel appreciated.

‘Let’s prioritize our goals.’

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According to Forbes, “making and achieving goals is an important aspect” of self-confidence. The key to this is to make goal-setting a collaborative process. By prioritizing shared goals, you’re taking control of a situation and often diffusing differing opinions to get back on track.

‘Can we explore this further?’

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This question helps to show interest in a certain topic of conversation. It helps to strengthen bonds by setting the precedent that any further exploration should be done together. It shows that you want to learn more, which is a humble approach that can often show confident people as polite rather than rude.

‘Thank you for sharing your thoughts.’

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Many people can be fearful of sharing a different opinion with a confident person due to worry that their opinion will be dismissed. Using this phrase means that you’re grateful for someone speaking up and sharing their thoughts, regardless of whether you agree or not.

‘How do you propose we move forward?’

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This is an assertive phrase to use if discussions have reached a deadlock and have become far too tense. The phrase is successful because it then shifts everybody’s attention to solutions rather than problems. It also invites people to contribute rather than you simply telling everyone to move on.

‘Let’s agree to disagree.’

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On a final note, this has to be one of the most effective phrases confident people use to end a discussion that’s going nowhere. Using this phrase is more respectful than simply saying you don’t agree with the other person’s opinion. It’s an assertive way to highlight that you’re never going to find common ground.

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