J Am Coll Dent. 2009 Summer;76(2):51-8.


Assertiveness means speaking up for one's interpersonal freedoms or as required by one's role responsibilities to engage others in finding viable, stable solutions. Assertiveness is a learnable skill rather than a personality characteristic. The first step in assertiveness is recognizing the nature of one's problem in order to avoid the objectionable and usually ineffective practice of trying to solve other people's problems. A simple assertive approach is to suggest a solution. A more structured technique involves identifying the behavior that is causing a problem and expressing one's feelings about the problem (I-messages). The most powerful technique combines portions of suggested solutions and I-messages with a clear statement of consequences (DESC scripts). Although there may be a small number of circumstances where they are appropriate, acquiescence (temporarily forgoing one's interpersonal freedoms or role responsibilities) or aggression (insisting on one's own solution to the detriment of others) have several disadvantages. An example of justifiable criticism in the case of recognized gross or continuous faulty work by another dentist is presented.

MeSH terms

  • Assertiveness*
  • Dentist-Patient Relations*
  • Dentists / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*