- Know the difference between assertiveness and aggression
• Assertiveness focuses on the problem.
• Aggression focuses on the person frustrating your needs.
- So what is – or isn’t - assertiveness?
• Assertiveness is truthful, open, non-judgemental communication that expresses your needs.
• Assertive people feel good about themselves, act appropriately and take responsibility.
• Assertiveness does not mean always saying what is on your mind regardless of whom you hurt.
• Assertiveness does not mean that you’ll always get your own way.
- Your message
• Know what you want and be specific.
• Structure your message using the PREP formula if possible (ask Brenda!).
• Make your point without becoming involved in side issues.
• Avoid going into lengthy explanations or giving long lists of excuses.
• Where appropriate describe the benefits of your suggestion and plan of action and what the consequences will be if the goal is not achieved.
- How you deliver your message:
• Where people have different viewpoints and emotions are likely to be high, try to communicate ‘in person’ where possible. Second choice would be a phonecall. Try to avoid electronic means in situations like this.
• State what you want clearly and without hesitancy.
• Speak in the first person. ‘I would prefer you to………. ’
• Maintain an erect posture whether sitting or standing and yet try to appear relaxed.
• Use eye contact, where appropriate, without staring
- Your feelings and behaviour:
• Don’t bottle up feelings. Express your feelings candidly and clearly – so the other person knows where you stand.
• Don’t lose control. Stay calm and relaxed – don’t get hooked into an emotional response.
• Give and take fair criticism.
• Don’t be afraid of taking reasonable risks.
- The other person:
• Try not to be upset by the other person’s expression of emotion (aggression, anger, sadness, fear etc.). If possible and appropriate, help them to deal with their feelings.
- The process:
• Don’t look for new ways of arguing.
• Use the ‘broken record technique’. Simply repeat what you believe, decide or intend doing (and keep repeating it). This way you avoid being manipulated and side-tracked.
- Give and take
• Express your case with conviction, but do not neglect the position of the other person.
• Be prepared to listen and be objectively influenced by the other person’s needs or views.
• Concede any reasonable points but express your disagreement with issues you find unacceptable.
• Learn to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty.
• Do not begin a refusal with an apology. Say ‘no’ firmly and keep your explanation short and clear.
• Describe the situation, what is happening now. For example, ‘This letter has three typing errors.’
• Express your true feelings, your likes and dislikes using ‘I’ statements. For example, ‘I am really upset that the letter was sent out with three mistakes.’ It makes your wishes and expectations clear without putting the other person on the defensive.
- Practise so you enhance your assertiveness skills
A helpful formula provided by a workshop presented by Candy Tymson in Sydney is as follows:
I feel ……………………….
I would prefer you to…………………………