Early one Sunday morning, I was waiting in line at Montreal’s airport. Despite the early hour, the airport was crowded. The lines at each of the security points were unusually long. People were patiently waiting; however, there was an elderly gentleman who became quite distressed as he realized he was going to miss his flight.

He managed to attract the attention of one of the officials and explain his predicament; however, they just shrugged unhelpfully. Then two younger passengers went to the aid of the older man. They asked each person in the queue ahead of him, ‘Would you mind if he jumps ahead of you to catch his flight?’. Of course no one minded, and the man went quickly through security.

By being assertive, the young passengers performed an act of  kindness. Assertiveness is a good quality. It means standing up for what is important to you in a calm and polite way.

Having ADHD can make being assertive harder. You might not know if it’s “ok” to feel the way you do, or if something is socially acceptable. You might already feel different from everyone else, and you may not want to draw more attention to yourself. Also, if you are shy, lack confidence or have low self-esteem, being assertive is harder. The good news is that being assertive is like a muscle that you can develop and grow.

Living with ADHD can mean you need to assert yourself more than other people. For example, a university student needs to talk to their professors to make sure his unique study needs are understood.  An employee might need to talk to HR to get accommodations in the workplace.

The benefit of being assertive is that life is more enjoyable and less stressful when you know you can handle whatever comes your way.

Different Levels of Assertiveness

How assertive you are will be different from how assertive your best friend is. Plus,  your assertiveness will vary.

  • You might  be more assertive on the behalf of others than for your own needs.
  • Some days you might find you are more assertive than others, depending on your mood and energy level, etc.
  • You might find it is easier to be assertive when you are with someone for moral support or that you feel more comfortable practicing assertiveness when you are incognito.
  • There might have been a time in your life when you were very good at being assertive and now you are out of practice.
  • You could be assertive regarding one issue, but struggle in other areas.

Want To Try The 30 Day Assertive Challenge?

The idea is simple. . . Every day assert yourself at least once to help grow your assertive muscle.

Here are some tips to help you:

1.Start With Service Providers.

They are “easy” because it’s their job to provide you with good service.  For example, if you order a large coffee and are given a small coffee, simply ask for your order to be changed.

2. Feel Shy?

If you are shy, join your local Toastmasters. It’s a great way to learn to speak in front of people as well as thinking on your feet so you always have the right words at the right time – even in stressful situations.

3. Where Are You Already Assertive?

Think about the areas of your life in which you are already assertive. There will be at least one. This will give you confidence that you can be assertive as you grow your assertive muscle in other areas of your life.

4. Enjoy the Benefits

Notice and enjoy the benefits of the new, assertive you. You will no longer have to tolerate or “put up” with anything that annoys you. This leads to a much happier you.

5. Practical Tips

For more practical tips on being assertive when you have ADHD, head here


When do you find it easy to be assertive? and when is it hard?


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