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The Guide to Compassionate Assertiveness
How to Express Your Needs and Deal with Conflict While Keeping a Kind Heart
Average: 4.5 (11 votes)


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Speaking up for yourself has benefits, but it has costs, too. Many people who struggle with assertiveness are paralyzed by worries that they’ll seem mean, petty, or that they will hurt the other person’s feelings. Even though they want to speak up, they may keep their true needs and opinions to themselves because of these fears—eventually building stress, resentment, and alienation. The Guide to Compassionate Assertiveness does not require that readers ignore the needs of others and focus solely on their own desires. Rather, this unique blend of cognitive behavioral therapy-based assertiveness training and Buddhist psychology helps readers practice assertiveness skills while caring deeply about the welfare of others.

This book helps readers develop a form of assertiveness that emphasizes collaboration, negotiation, and compromise. It focuses on speaking up for the benefit of others and speaking up for the relationship, not just one’s own needs. In this way, readers learn to assert their needs in ways that match their compassionate value systems. This book is the ideal assertiveness guide for those who are afraid of rejection, have a deep concern for how others perceive them, often feel judged by others, or have difficulty expressing their feelings and needs. Readers learn to apply assertiveness skills in all domains of their lives, including in romantic relationships, as parents, at work, and in social settings.

Publisher Reviews
  • “In this book, Sherrie M. Vavrichek skillfully draws on cognitive behavioral therapy, Buddhist psychology and philosophy, and her own deep insight. The compassionate assertiveness approach offers powerful tools to grow beyond conflict strategies that no longer serve, without doing violence to oneself or others. Her book is a valuable contribution that will be a great help to many.”
    -Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness

  • “In her accessible and deeply wise book, Sherrie M. Vavrichek teaches us how to communicate our truths in a way that serves understanding and connection. The mindfulness and skills at the center of this training can transform and heal not only individual relationships, but the fabric of our society.”
    —Tara Brach, PhD, clinical psychologist, meditation teacher and author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge

  • “Well-written, thoughtful, and incredibly enlightening. This book adeptly weaves philosophy and psychology into an interpersonal approach that can have a major positive impact on anyone’s life.”
    —Jon E. Grant, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and author of Stop Me Because I Can’t Stop Myself

  • “As someone brought up on traditional assertiveness training, I have to say that Sherrie M. Vavrichek’s book brings a newer, much better and more usable approach to helping people with problems in this area. It is a thoughtful, well-written gem, and a genuine resource. I can truly see myself recommending this to my own patients.”
    —Fred Penzel, PhD, author of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders and The Hair-Pulling Problem

  • The Guide to Compassionate Assertiveness is a joyously practical marriage of Western psychotherapy and Eastern wisdom. Clearly written with many helpful examples, it presents valuable skills that sensitive people need in dealing with the world.”
    —Kate Berg, PhD, geneticist, writer and yoga instructor at Quiet Willow Studio in Silver Spring, MD

  • “As a therapist/healer I found Vavrichek’s book inspiring. This unique approach of blending Buddhist principles and cognitive behavioral strategies provides a useful and practical guide on how to navigate through your life assertively in a gentler and truly loving way.”
    —Merrill Black, LCSW, Reiki master and hypnotherapist specializing in anxiety disorders

  • “Drawing on her experiences with Eastern and Western philosophies, Vavrichek has created a unique approach that combines humanism with self-empowerment. If you are looking to apply assertiveness skills in all major areas of your life, then you owe it to yourself to read the wisdom in this life-affirming book.”
    —Joel F. Jaro, LCSW-R, psychotherapist and inspirational coach

  • “In this book, Vavrichek has combined the classic cognitive behavioral technique of assertiveness training with age-old philosophical principles of compassion, mindfulness and kindness. In doing so she provides a framework for assertiveness for the new millennium—effective, constructive and caring. Her writing is clear, convincing, and filled with many illuminating case examples. The author’s expertise and compassion shine through as she leads the reader on a valuable journey of the mind and heart. There is wisdom in this book from which all readers will benefit.”
    —Charles S. Mansueto, PhD, director at Behavior Therapy Center of Greater Washington

  • “Ms. Vavrichek tackles the complexities of human thinking, emotions, and interactions, while presenting her writing using style and language that are accessible to the general reader. She guides us toward reaching our ability to remain calm and caring while at the same time taking care of ourselves, without making excuses for others or allowing mistreatment. Sherrie M. Vavrichek accomplishes an amazing task, which is to integrate a Western psychological approach with Eastern Buddhist principles. She presents a new view of assertiveness: when you behave assertively with a caring heart, you are actually showing concern not just for your own, but for the other person’s welfare.”
    —Noah Weintraub, PsyD, clinical psychologist at Behavior Therapy Center of Greater Washington

  • “It’s (relatively) straightforward to be simply compassionate; the same goes for being assertive. But being both at the same time is a real challenge, even though that’s the sweet spot in significant relationships of any kind. Sherrie M. Vavrichek has done a remarkable job in offering heartfelt, solid, down-to-earth, and effective ways to occupy this sweet spot at home and work.”
    —Rick Hanson, PhD, author of Buddha’s Brain

  • “Using language elegant in its ease of delivery, Sherrie M. Vavrichek’s groundbreaking book clearly outlines how utilizing assertiveness from a truly compassionate stance has the ability to transform problematic human communications for the better. I would say in many ways this book provides the missing link for the Western mind’s step-by-step understanding of how one can develop socially conscious, healthy, interpersonal engagement skills, while simultaneously getting one’s needs met! My own well-being has unexpectedly improved since reading this important work, and I suggest this approach be taught as soon as a human being is developmentally able to grasp these concepts. Much unnecessary suffering would be eliminated.”
    —Christina Pearson, founding director at Trichotillomania Learning Center in Santa Cruz, CA

    “A true gem: A thoughtful, cohesive, and comprehensive work that spans scientific research, Eastern and Western concepts and application, distilling information into an engaging, readable, and practical book that many can benefit from. Sherrie M. Vavrichek has provided a roadmap that guides the reader through chartered and unchartered waters. She shows the reader a way to be assertive while also caring, even in the most complex and demanding of situations. A quietly powerful, impactful book.”
    —Sarah Weden, PsyD, neuropsychologist at NeuroBehavioral Associates in Columbia, MD


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