Being able to express your needs and feelings in a way that is assertive is a valuable skill and can help to build self confidence.  An assertive person is able to express there views and needs clearly to others without becoming passive or aggressive.  By that I mean that you don't let others impose their point of view on you and you don't impose yours on them.  You just say what it is that you feel and want and let others do the same.

Like many skills, assertiveness takes time to master and needs to be practised.  Sometimes you will get it right and other times you will lean more towards passive or aggressive, the main thing is recognizing when this has happened and understanding how you can learn from this experience. 

Assertive statements use the word 'I' a lot, so, they could start 'I feel', 'I would like', 'I need' and so on.  They are about owning a feeling or view point and expressing it as your own.  The opposite of this is when you say 'You make me feel such and such'.  One person can not make another person feel something.  They can however behave in a way that triggers feelings in another.  For instance someone shouting at you may cause you feel intimidated or not listened to.  An example of an assertive way to express this is 'When you shout at me I feel intimidated and not listened to'.  An unassertive way of putting this is to say 'you make me feel intimidated'.  Its a very subtle change but very important and it takes ownership of the feeling and makes for a much more constructive dialogue. 

Assertive statements also open up discussion rather than try and close it down.  A passive person maybe afraid to say they are unhappy with a situation and an aggressive person may be more accusatory and attacking in there speech.  I will be putting much more about this in the coming months as learning to be more assertive can be such a powerful tool.