The Brilliance Series: Assertiveness

The Brilliance Series invites you to take a closer look at each of the seven Emergenetics® Attributes. Whether you are craving more information about your own Profile or interested in better understanding the preferences of others, the series will offer insights to shine a light on the gifts of each Attribute. This week, we’re exploring Assertiveness.

An Overview

As we delve into the Assertiveness Attribute, I would like to begin by addressing a common misunderstanding that I often hear in workshops. When participants are new to Emergenetics®, they sometimes believe that only those in the third-third of this Behaviour are truly “assertive,” or have opinions that they wish to convey.

In actuality, every person is assertive. The difference simply lies in how they are likely to communicate their opinions and their comfort level in putting thoughts and beliefs across, which we will now investigate in greater depth.

At Emergenetics, we define Assertiveness as the style and pace with which a person advances their thoughts, feelings and beliefs. It’s helpful to understand both concepts – style and pace – through the thirds of the Attribute.

Reflecting on style, the third-third of this Behaviour tends to be more comfortable stating their opinions directly. As an example, if you are walking into a meeting, someone in this third is likely to say, “Shut the door” as the last person enters the room.

Conversely, those in the first-third often are more comfortable asserting in a peaceful way and may offer their thoughts through questions. In the same situation, a first-third team member might say, “Should we shut the door?” Individuals in the second-third may adopt either approach depending on the circumstance or how they are feeling that day.

Pace considers the intensity with which a person prefers to navigate their work. Someone in the third-third is likely to appreciate an intense, driving stride while those in the first-third often enjoy a consistent, gentle tempo. The second-third may gravitate towards either approach based on the situation.

A few of the terms commonly associated with the third-third of Assertiveness include determined and directive. Words like amiable and deliberate are often connected with the first-third.

The Inner Monologue

To illustrate how this Behaviour may come to life, my colleague Joanne Kelly, Programmes and Client Success Director, and I put together a brief video.

The Brilliances

Strengths abound across each third of this Attribute. The third-third of Assertiveness is often known for its brilliance in:

  • Managing debate and disagreement with ease
  • Applying driving energy to make progress
  • Creating a sense of urgency
  • Conveying their opinions with clarity
  • Leading through challenging others

The first-third is often recognised for its gifts of:

  • Keeping the peace
  • Gaining buy-in and consensus
  • Leading by shepherding the group forward
  • Valuing and creating harmony
  • Applying a gentle, steady approach

Individuals in the second-third often borrow from the brilliances of both sides of the spectrum with ease, giving them the innate gifts of moderating the pace, pushing for debate or building consensus as well as utilising a more democratic or pace-setting style as needed.


When it comes to amplifying energy for Assertiveness, let’s first consider the ecosystems that best support the continuum. If you find yourself in need of a motivation boost, I encourage you to assess where you fall on the spectrum and identify opportunities to make shifts that honour your preferences.

For individuals with a third-third tendency, try:

  • Creating a sense of competition – even if it’s only with yourself
  • Setting a fast-approaching deadline
  • Determining stretch goals
  • Engaging in debate
  • Making quick decisions to boost momentum

The following concepts may have greater appeal to those with a first-third preference:

  • Allowing space to hear others’ opinions
  • Following a methodical timeline
  • Engaging in a calming environment
  • Making time to pause and reflect before decision-making
  • Negotiating win-win resolutions for all parties

Individuals in the second-third may be energised by any of these strategies, based on the project, the day, the people involved and their Thinking preferences. For those in the second-third, I encourage you to consider previous instances when you were inspired by a third-third approach as well as a first-third approach. Then, identify any patterns or factors that may influence which methodology speaks to you in those moments so that you better select the right tips to increase your energy in the future.

Flexing Through Assertiveness

For readers who are interested in learning how they can better stretch across the continuum, these suggestions are written to help you adjust your approach to respect the preferences of your colleagues, family members or friends.

If you are trying to lean into the third-third, remember to:

  • Directly state your opinion
  • Advocate for your perspective
  • Embrace conflict to address differences quickly
  • Increase your pace to support momentum

If your intention is to support first-third Assertiveness, consider:

  • Keeping your actions at a gentle, steady rate
  • Promoting peace as conflict is often seen as unproductive
  • Inviting opinions and offering suggestions, not directives
  • Checking in with others and seeking consensus

When connecting with someone in the second-third, it can be useful to look for context clues as to whether they are adopting a more third-third or first-third style. Doing so will help you to match rapport more effectively. Some signals may include how directly they express their opinions as well as the speed with which they approach various situations.

While you are likely to hear directly from those in the third-third of Assertiveness, it is good to remember that everyone has an important perspective to share. By understanding the spectrum and making an effort to create psychological safety for each preference, you can demonstrate that you value the ways each person prefers to assert themselves and promote an environment where all team members are engaged.

Explore the other entries in our series: Analytical, Structural, Social, Conceptual, Expressiveness and Flexibility

Discover new ways to support your colleagues by respecting their preferences. Take a look at the courses in The egLearning Library or fill out the form below to talk to one our team members about potential training solutions!

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