Are You Being Assertive or Selfish? Discover the Difference

Are You Being Assertive or Selfish? Discover the Difference

In the fine art of finesse, you get much better results when others perceive you as being assertive rather than selfish. Either way, you’re letting others know what you want or need, so why is there such a difference?

Assertiveness is a positive quality that makes others feel good about helping you get what you want. On the other hand, selfishness pushes others away. It makes them want to keep you from getting your way!

Let’s look at some examples:


When you appear selfish, it looks like you’re concerned only with yourself and your advantage to the exclusion of the feelings, wants, and needs of others. Your focus is completely on you. You might trigger others to feel negatively toward you.

You could come off as demanding or even rude when you’re behaving selfishly.

Selfish Examples

* John said, “I’m hungry now and I don’t want to wait two more hours to eat. Let’s go to the restaurant right now!

* Susan loudly demanded the waitress bring her a whole new entree because the meat wasn’t cooked enough for her.

* Jane insisted that she be first to get into the car when she was caught out in the rain with friends. “My hair will get wet!”


When you’re assertive, you appear self-assured, confident, declarative, definite, emphatic, and positive about what you want.

You might not like the way something has taken place, but you’re able to stand up for yourself and appropriately say what you require. You have no malice toward others and you’re not feeling frustrated.

You’re simply asking for or stating what you want to happen with confidence and courtesy.

Assertive Examples

* Jim said, “I’m pretty hungry and I know we don’t plan to leave for the restaurant for another two hours. I’m going to have an apple and some cheese now. Does anyone else want anything?

* Gloria was subtle as she motioned the waitress over and spoke quietly. “I’d like my steak well-done. Could you please throw it on the grill for another few minutes? I’d really appreciate it.

* Julie was concerned about her hair getting wet in the rain as she and her friends ran to the car. She said to Michelle, who drove them, “Since I have a meeting at work this afternoon, could I wait inside this store for you to pick me up so my hair won’t get wet?”

What would your natural reactions be to these requests? Considering the feelings of others can make all the difference – regardless of what you’re asking for.

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Your Own Feelings When Being Selfish or Assertive

You can determine whether you’re acting selfish or assertive, depending on how you’re feeling when you make a request:


* When you’re reacting in a selfish way, you’ll often find yourself experiencing negative feelings. You can’t figure out why others don’t see that you’re unhappy or not getting the attention you deserve. Why don’t they understand?

* You may feel frustrated or short-tempered.

* You want your way. You want what you want when you want it. And you want it now!


* On the other hand, when you’re assertive, you likely don’t have negative feelings. You’ve thought about what’s going on and realized your needs weren’t being met so you stepped forward to state them succinctly and without negativity.

* You have no negative or hidden agenda to “get back” at someone or loudly demand what you believe you should have.

* You feel you can calmly state what it is you’re after. It’s clear and understandable. You just want to resolve the situation.

Use these points to determine whether you’re behaving selfishly or assertively. Strive to use assertiveness to help you accomplish your life goals and you’ll find that you get where you want to be much quicker.


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