On completion of this tutorial, you will be able to:
- Recognise choices
- Create an assertiveness preparation checklist
- Understand the rights you have within the area of assertiveness
- Recognise six ways to assert yourself
- Gives everyone else their choice, puts everyone else first, even at own expense
- Makes all the decisions: everyone else has no choice
- I can make decisions and so can you, we both have the right to an opinion and a choice
Assertiveness Preparation Checklist
- Get clear in your own mind what it is specifically that you want. i.e. your "bottom line" objective
- Clarify your own and the other person's rights
- Practise the assertiveness statement with which you intend to start the transaction to ensure that it is neither non-assertive nor aggressive
Rights You Have Within the Area of Assertiveness
These derive from various humanistic beliefs such as "All people are equal", "All people are entitled to freedom". They are similar to the statements underpinning the constitutions of many countries and the universal declaration of human rights.
(For the full declaration. see also the UN website at www.unhcr.ch/udhr/)
All people are equal
This is not to say that all people are the same, but rather that, regardless of race, colour, creed, background or behaviour, all people are of equal value as human beings. Thus your colleague may put forward different ideas from yours (some might say 'better ideas'): this does not mean that he is a better person than you, or a more valuable person; it merely means that he is different.
All people are entitled to freedom
This is to say, all people are free to do and be what they like provided they do not affect others, taking away their freedom of choice. So, for instance, you are free to listen to your transistor on the beach provided you do not inflict that choice on others who prefer not to listen.
As with any belief system, an assertive belief system affects the rights you give yourself and others, which in turn affects your behaviour.
The following list contains some of the general rights that are available to you under "assertiveness". They are important if you want to behave assertively in many situations in your life.
- I have the right to have and express opinions, views and ideas which may or may not be different from other peoples - and so do you
- I have the right to have these opinions, views and ideas listened to and respected (not necessarily agreed with or put on a 'pedestal', but accepted as being valid for you) - and so do you
- I have the right to have needs and wants that may be different from other peoples - and so do you
- I have the right to ask (not demand) that others respond to your needs and wants - and so do you
- I have the right to refuse a request without feeling guilty or selfish - and so do you
- I have the right to have feelings and to express them assertively if I so choose - and so do you
- I have the right to be 'human', e.g. to be wrong sometimes - and so do you
- I have the right to decide not to assert myself (e.g. to choose not to raise a particular issue) - and so do you
- I have the right to be true to my own self; this may be the same as, or different from, what others would like me to be (it includes choosing friends, interests, etc.) - and so do you
- I have the right to have others respect my rights - and so do you
All this underpins the right to be assertive.
Six Types of Assertion
Adapted from "Assertiveness at work" by Ken and Kate Back.
1. Basic assertion
A statement where you state your position, make clear your needs, wants, beliefs, opinions or feelings.
This type of assertion is used everyday to make your needs known. In addition you use it to give praise or compliments, information or facts, or when raising an issue with someone for the first time.
Examples of Basic Assertion:
- "I need to be away by 5 o'clock"
- "I feel pleased with the way the issue has been resolved"
- "The cost will be £2,000"
- "I haven't thought about that before, I'd like time to think about your idea."
2. Empathetic assertion
This assertion contains an element of recognition of the other person's feelings, needs or wants, as well as a statement of your needs and wants.
This type of assertion can be used when the other person is involved in a situation that may be counter productive with your needs and you want to indicate that you are aware of and sensitive to his position.
Empathetic assertion is useful in holding you back from over - reacting with aggression when it causes you to give yourself time to imagine the other person's position and therefore slow down your response.
Examples of Empathetic assertion:
- "I appreciate that you don't like the new procedure, however, until its changed, I'd like you to keep working on it."
- "I know you're busy at the moment, John, but I'd like to make a request of you."
- "I recognise that it's difficult to be precise on costs, however, I need a rough estimate."
3. Consequence assertion
This informs the other person of the consequences for them of not changing their behaviour. This is the strongest form and is seen as a last resort behaviour. It can easily be seen as threatening and therefore aggressive. Only use this form of assertion when you have sanctions to apply, and only when you are prepared to apply them.
Examples of Consequence assertion:
- "If you continue to withhold the information, I am left with no option, but to bring in the production director. I'd prefer not to."
- "I'm not prepared, John, to let any of my staff cooperate with yours on the project, unless you give them access to the same facilities that your people have."
- "If this occurs again, I'm left with no alternative, but to apply the formal disciplinary procedure. I'd prefer not to."
A Few Words of Warning:
Phrases from empathetic assertion can be over - used and become insincere, for example "I appreciate your feelings, but..." in this case the currency of empathy is devalued by the word "but" and the phrase becomes aggression masked as assertion. In TA terms, an ulterior transaction results.
Alternatively, putting the other persons needs before your own could lead you to behave non - assertively. For example if you see a colleague is busy and saying to yourself "oh, he's too busy to talk right now, I won't disturb him." This is sympathy, not empathy!
4. Discrepancy assertion
Pointing out a discrepancy between what has previously been agreed and what is actually happening. This is useful for clarifying whether there is a misunderstanding or a contradiction, and when a person' s behaviour does not match their words.
Examples of Discrepancy assertion:
- "As I understand it, we agreed that Project A was top priority. Now you're asking me to give more time to Project B. I'd like to clarify which is now the priority."
- "Paul, on the one hand you are saying that you want to improve cooperation between our departments, but on the other hand you make statements about us that make it difficult for us to cooperate. I agree that we can improve the situation, so I'd like to talk about that."
5. Negative feelings assertion
Here you draw attention to the undesirable affect another person's behaviour is having on you. Used when you are experiencing very negative feelings towards another person - anger, resentment, hurt and so on. This allows you to deal with the feelings without making an uncontrolled outburst, and alerts the other person to the effects of their actions on you.
Elements of Negative feelings assertion:
- "When you leave it this late to produce your report...
(objective description of other's behaviour)
...it involves my working over the weekend.
(specific effects of that behaviour on you)
- I feel annoyed about this, so in future...
(description of your feelings)
- ...I'd like to receive it by Friday lunch time."
For example, " When you continually interrupt me when I'm working on the balance sheets, it means I have to start all over again. I'm feeling irritated by this, so I would prefer you to wait until I have finished."
6. Broken Record
This is a technique using a progression of assertiveness styles, remember to first establish your "bottom line" that is, what it is you specifically want.
Always begin with the mildest stance, getting more and more assertive as you see fit. Avoid jumping in with the heaviest consequences stance, it will be a threat, NOT assertive behaviour.
Example of taking an item back to a shop, with the aim of replacing the faulty item with a good one, using all levels of assertiveness, while repeating own need.
- "I bought this clock here yesterday. The button for moving the hands isn't working properly so I'd like to exchange it please"
At this point the assistant will either agree or:
- "The clock should have been checked before it left the shop"
- "I realise that would have made things easier, however, I would still like to replace it."
At this point the assistant will either agree or:
- "I don't have the authority to exchange things"
Response "I would still like it to be replaced."
- After a few exchanges the level could be raised to:
- "I would like the item changed. If you are not prepared to do that I will take the matter up with your Head Office. I would prefer to resolve it now."
When to use Assertion
ALWAYS USE THE MINIMUM DEGREE OF ASSERTION FOR ACHIEVING YOUR AIM.
- If you use strong assertion too early, you will undoubtedly come across to some people as being aggressive.
- It is far too tiring to be assertive all the time!
Summary of Types of Assertion
A Model for Influencing Others