How to be assertive and be heard

You might want to know why another person won’t listen to your point of view. In this article, I tell you why this happens and show you how to be assertive and be heard. Usually, negotiation skills are required in order to have your opinion heard.

Why do people not listen to me?

I was asked about a particular situation by a lady I know: “When my partner and I have a difference of opinion it always gets quite heated because he won’t listen to my point of view. Is there any way to handle this?”

Why would this lady’s partner not listen to what she wants to say? It could be that he sees this as a situation that is negating him, it’s tapping into a negative self-belief of “I’m not good enough”, or “I don’t matter”. It could also be that he wants to provide a solution – all she might want is to be assertive and be heard.

Be assertive and have your opinion heard

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How to be assertive and be heard

It is important for us all to know how to be assertive and be heard. In his book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, Stephen Covey writes, ‘Seek first to understand then be understood’. This is a way of connecting with another person and hearing their view, thus clearing the path for your view to be expressed and heard.

We can apply Covey’s thinking to my friend’s situation. Firstly, she can value her partner’s opinion, let him know that she wants to hear what he has to say. As he’s speaking, reinforce his comments with non-verbal cues such as head nods and eye contact. Add in “mm hmm” and “yes”. Once he has completed saying what he has to say, paraphrase what he has said, and reflect it back to him. This lets him know that he has been heard. At that point he will have said all he needs to say and, in return, he will be receptive to what my friend to say.

An example:

Let’s say your partner and you have a disagreement over clearing shared credit card debt which you have accumulated. Your partner says that the debt should be paid off one debt at a time. You might have the view of consolidating it as a whole, with a low interest rate, and pay it off steadily. However, your partner won’t listen to what you want to say. Here’s how to be assertive and be heard.

You: “I really value your opinion, please tell me what it is so that I can understand.” As he/she speaks, give head nods and eye contact, and use “mm hmm” at appropriate moments.

When he/she finishes speaking, say: “So what I’m hearing you say is, in order to clear the debts one at a time, we need to pay them off steadily from the highest interest rate, and clear them that way.”

Partner: “Yes, that’s it.”

You: “Yeah, that certainly makes sense. My idea would differ a bit from that. How would you feel about hearing what I have to say?

Partner: “Well, okay.”

You: “My view is that we could consolidate the whole debt with a low interest rate. We can then pay it all off steadily at the same interest rate. In fact, I’ve found a way that we can do this. Would you like to have a look at it?”

Partner: “Yeah, okay.”


By negotiating this way, you have averted the heated argument. It has led to a successful outcome.

Although I am giving you a scenario about discussing how to clear debt, the same principles apply no matter what you are discussing. It is a basic negotiation strategy – ‘Seek first to understand then be understood’.

Learn more

I hope this article has been helpful. If you would like to watch a video of me presenting this scenario you can do so at this YouTube link. I am delighted to show you how to be assertive and be heard – your opinion matters.

I also want to help you to become the best that you can possibly be and achieve your maximum potential.

I’ll see you up there!

If you are considering booking Michael as a keynote speaker for an online event, or in-person event, you can read more about him and see testimonials at our Motivational Speaker page.