Workplace Stress, Your Rights, and How to Assert Yourself

Workplace Stress, Your Rights, and How to Assert Yourself | HealthSoul

As a busy professional, I am aware of how work stress can interfere with every aspect of your life. Stress at work has a way of burning you out quickly because it becomes a strain on your daily life. There are ways to deal with work stress that can help make it much more manageable. I am a living example of coping with work stress and not allowing it to interfere with every other aspect of my life. 

How do you deal with work stress?

Work stress may be a question you pose regularly. The answer is in being assertive. 

Why assertive communication makes sense in the workplace?

Being assertive is a core strategy for communication, especially in the workplace. What it means to be assertive is to adequately express yourself and your point of view while still respecting those around you. Assertive communication makes sense because it’s based on mutual respect. By being assertive, you are showing that you respect yourself as well as those you work with. 

What is the difference between assertive and passive behavior?

Work stress overflows when you have a passive attitude. Being passive means that you don’t address issues when they arise, and you take every step possible to avoid conflict. By being assertive, you can reduce stress and even thrive in the workplace because you are not just letting things happen around you. Instead, you are taking action by dealing with your colleagues, honestly and clearly. 

Are you showing assertive behavior?

To be assertive in your workplace, you are showing respect for those around you while also elevating yourself to be respected. People won’t take advantage of you. Better still, you will learn to deal with work stress better because you have complete control over your emotions. Lastly, to show assertive behavior, you are setting boundaries for those around you and not giving in to the demands that go beyond those boundaries.  

Why is passive-aggressive behavior terrible for you?

There are many types of personalities in the workplace; none that clash more with others than when you exhibit passive-aggressive behavior. 

Being passive-aggressive is terrible for you and damaging to any workplace relationships. You are frustrating those around you along with damaging your work ethic and relationships with colleagues. When you exhibit passive-aggressive behavior, you are denying how you feel and are shutting down instead of communicating. By refusing to discuss issues or by stubbornly procrastinating on work projects out of stubbornness, you are damaging your relationship with your superiors and your co-workers. 

Being the Yes Person is Harmful to You and Your Stress Levels

Being the yes’ person is damaging to your career and your stress levels because you are taking on everything everyone asks you to do without considering if you can do the job.  As you continually say yes to everything, your willingness to work hard will eventually take its toll. You will be stressed as deadlines loom, and you aren’t making the progress you expected. Furthermore, you will be seen in your workplace as a pushover. 

The Benefits of Being Assertive

There are many great benefits to being assertive in the workplace. Your communication with co-workers and bosses will improve as well as several other career-changing benefits will arise. 

Become a better manager

As you learn to assert yourself in the workplace, you will find your management skills will improve dramatically through proper communication and work allocation. 

Create win-win solutions for every aspect of your life

By being assertive, you are learning to effectively communicate your needs, show respect for yourself and others as well as managing your time better. Assertiveness will help you win in all areas of your life, not just your career. 

Become Better at Doing and Problem-Solving

As you assert yourself, you will learn how to handle all aspects of your life with more clarity. You will face situations and be able to handle them better as you can problem-solve, tackling difficult situations. 

Over Time, You Will Learn to Handle Stress Better

Though you will still experience work stress, you won’t be as overwhelmed as you would be if you continued to be passive-aggressive. The more you learn to assert yourself, the better you will become at handling stress in your life.

Step by Step on Learning to be More Assertive

You can quickly learn to become more confident by taking an honest look at yourself and your behavior.

What style are you?

  • Do you find it difficult to accept constructive criticism?
  • Do you often say ‘yes’ to requests that you should say ‘no’ to so as not to let people down?
  • Do you have difficulty expressing your opinion with others, especially in opposition?
  • Do people feel alienated by the way you communicate different opinions?
  • Do you feel like people are attacking you when you have a difference of opinion?

How to be more assertive

  • Use “I” statements to create clarity in how you feel and where you stand. 
  • Discuss topics in a way that benefits your employer and not just your desires. 
  • Explain what you mean and why you believe the way that you do. 
  • Use body language such as Amy Cuddy’s Power Stance.
  • Always keep your emotions under control. 
  • Understand that smaller steps will lead to more significant steps. 

Bonus: Powerful Move to Launch Forward in your Workplace

Recognize Your Value

Knowing your value starts by knowing what your workplace rights are. Some rights may include:

  • The right to a safe workplace (29 U.S.C. §651 et. seq.).
  • The right to not be discriminated against or harassed because of your race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, ancestry, or disability (42 U.S.C. § 2000e et. seq.)
  • The right to take a leave from work to recover from an illness, care for a family member, or care for a new child (29 U.S.C. § 2601 et. seq.)

You can always call NLSA at (412)255-6700 to obtain more literature on each of these rights. 

Be Willing to Keep Growing

Just because you encounter disappointment in the workplace doesn’t mean that it has to be a negative thing, use it as a lesson learned and grow from it. 

Acknowledge that you can’t Control Another Person’s Behavior

You aren’t responsible for other people. Therefore, it stands to reason that you cannot be responsible for their behavior, only your own. 

Be open to criticism and compliments

Part of growing as a person knows when to accept that there are going to be criticisms of you and when they arise, learn to form them. The same way, accept compliments gracefully. 

It’s ok not to Answer Immediately

Be willing to understand that sometimes you won’t have an answer quickly for your boss or co-worker. If you have to ask them for more time, do it. 

More on Being Assertive and how to Help Your Team

Know what battles you should fight and which don’t matter. Learn how to pick your battles wisely and understand that the ones you choose are ones worth fighting for. Address all issues that arise with clarity and directness. You don’t want to make your co-workers guess what the problems are, be direct, and explain the issues. 


Work stress is something that most are plagued with every single day. When you find that you are starting to feel the burden of work, try using assertiveness as a way to deal with work stress. The more you assert yourself, the better you will be at your overall life. 

Author Bio

Suja Johnkutty: Dedicated physician, mom, and visionary. If I could live in a Relaxation Retreat half the year, I would. From an overwhelmed state, I realized to embrace the solace that comes from meditation, mindfulness, and the love of comforts at home after a busy day. Let me share them with you in to amplify your self-care and enhance your vibrancy.