women assertive bossy


Women are often labelled as bossy or overbearing when we are assertive. It can prove a real barrier for us and can be a source of shame, judgement, and backlash. As a society, we must learn the difference between bossy and assertiveness in order for women to thrive personally and professionally.



So… what IS the difference?


Bossiness: to be bossy is to be overbearing and controlling. Being bossy is more a misguided attempt to control the situation and these types of individuals are often regarded as difficult to work with.

Assertiveness: this is when people communicate their thoughts and feelings in a respectful and clear way. They aren’t afraid to express themselves but also recognise the importance of other’s emotions.


Knowing how to be assertive allows us to set boundaries, communicate properly, and resolve conflicts. It can also establish strong relationships. When you communicate honestly and respectfully, you can advocate for yourself whilst earning the respect of others.


However, women are often conditioned to be accommodating. Due to gender stereotypes, we’re taught to be the ‘carer’ whilst putting other people’s needs in front of our own. These archaic societal expectations are still dominant in modern society, making many of us uncomfortable to express ourselves directly compared to that of our male counterparts.


We ALL must recognise and actively work against these expectations. Assertiveness is a positive trait that all women should strive for and not be afraid to use.



How can I be more assertive?


  • Learn the skills – it may seem obvious, but learning the key practices to assertiveness is the best way to start. Reading books, listening to podcasts, and attending workshops are all good ways to kickstart your assertiveness journey.


  • Remember to respect others – it’s important to find the balance between speaking your mind and advocating for yourself whilst respecting the feelings of others. Remember this is a key difference between assertiveness and bossiness.


  • Show yourself grace – we are battling hundreds, if not thousands, of years of social conditioning. Practicing assertiveness can feel strange at first and may take some time to feel natural. It’s important to show ourselves forgiveness if we aren’t perfect first try.



Build your assertiveness with us…


If you’re looking to build your assertiveness, why not sign up to our ‘Activate Your Assertiveness’ workshop?


Check out our full list of workshops and courses here.


The Women's Organisation women-owned social enterprise