I think it could be low self-esteem but it also could be because people have never learned, or been taught, how to assert themselves in an effective way. I never learned how to assert myself when I was younger - my Mum's advice for every situation Is always to assert myself, put my shoulders back and projecting my voice. I know she means really well, but it's not very effective advice IMO. I don't come from a very assertive family!!
I also think far too many people were never taught how to be assertive and how to handle confrontation in a mature manner. If I had a dollar for every time someone writes "I hate/am scared of confrontation" on mumsnet, I'd be a very rich person.
TheRealGussieFinkNottle what I hate more than confrontation is coming away from a situation feeling like I’ve been shafted or someone is significantly better off at my expense. I guess that’s my driver in trying to be assertive (but also fair).
How do you deal with confronting someone in a fair and assertive way?
Let me ask you this, why do you feel standing up for yourself ISN'T fair to the other party involved? If you are being truthful, open to discussion, and polite, how could being assertive ever not be fair?