Developing an Assertive You for Consulting Win-Wins

In high school, I remember a cheer we used to shout at basketball games. It went something like,


Be Aggressive

Be, Be Aggressive!”

When your team is down by ten points, being aggressive may not be such a bad thing. In consultant/client relationships, however, being aggressive is a quick path to a failed solution.

In Flawless Consulting, we talk about this idea of being aggressive, as well as what it means to be the opposite, or non-assertive. Neither is a recipe for success. As Flawless consultants, we strive to be assertive, respecting the rights of others as well as our own. Rights such as the ability to voice an opinion, be listened to, disagree, to say no, be treated with respect, express feelings, or be quiet are generally things we want for ourselves—and certainly rights we should not deny our clients.

Unfortunately, when faced with aggression or non-assertive behaviors, these rights are seldom honored and our ability to help clients solve problems so they stay solved quickly diminishes. When aggressive, it’s all about me. When passive, it’s all about you. Either way, there is a clear loser. When assertive, we both “win.”

Even so, being one or the other can have its benefits. Consider: what are the negative and positive qualities of aggressive and non-assertive behavior?







Avoid Conflict

Missed Opportunities



Avoid Blaming

Lack of Influence





Lack of trust

Decisions Made


Not Engaged


Take Stance




Assertiveness is the best of both worlds. We all have the ability to control our behavior and act in all three ways. When we get under stress, we tend to move away from assertiveness. So, being aware of the negatives of both aggressive and non-assertive behavior may help all of us move more to the middle, especially when dealing with those who aren’t.

Below are some tips to help you “move to the middle” in being more assertive with your clients.

Is it really possible to be assertive with clients? The simple answer is yes. It’s not only possible but, ultimately, much more productive and comfortable than the alternative. It does take practice, and you may not always be 100% assertive all the time—but the more you honor the rights of yourself and others, the easier it is to B-E-A-S-S-E-R-T-I-V-E, Be, Be Assertive!

Beverly Crowell is an experienced facilitator, speaker, thought leader, and author specializing in the areas of business operations, organization, employee and human resources development.