3 Quick Tips To Help You Act More Assertively

May 1, 2014

A lot of people just don’t like the idea of having to tell people they can’t do something. Or they feel obligated when a colleague asks a favour; or feel pressurised when someone senior to them needs something done.

There are even some work places where saying no is definitely frowned upon.

After having worked for some time with people where saying no either feels impossible or just isn’t allowed, we created a body of assertiveness work to address it. In some cases it is indeed, how to say no without ever saying the word.

Of course, there are times when saying the ‘n’ word is a necessity. But in our   experience,   there   is   so   much   anxiety   around   the   possible consequences of using it, that unassertive people don’t say anything at all, or agree to things they’d rather not, or get landed with work that isn’t theirs and so on.

That can’t be good for anyone, but especially the person who finds themselves staying late at the end of the day to get their own work done after they’ve finished everyone else’s; or who swallows their resentment when they are ‘volunteered’ for something they don’t want to do; or who quakes at the idea of having to be a bit tougher with a supplier or even someone they manage.

So let’s take a look at assertiveness and 3 quick tips to help you.

What is Assertiveness?

Assertiveness is standing up for yourself – without putting the other person down.

This means:

  • Being able to manage difficult situations
  • Listening actively to what is said
  • Saying the right thing at the right time
  • Being confident in yourself and your abilities
  • Dealing with facts and information not emotion and feelings
  • Speaking clearly, and without hesitating

There are three easy steps to being assertive, they are:

1. Think Right

2. Say it Right

3. Behave Right

Think Right

  • Recognise faulty thinking
  • Start a retrospective diary
  • Use sound thinking strategies

o Inoculate yourself – develop a record of personal skills, qualities and achievements

o Put it in perspective

o Remove and replace any inappropriate labels

Techniques to Achieve Sound Thinking

  • Put it in perspective
  • Ask yourself- ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’

o  Remove any labels

We drain ourselves of the confidence and self-esteem to deal well with new situations by unrealistically telling ourselves that we don’t fit into a particular category

  • Inoculate yourself
  • Boost your confidence and self-esteem by making a list of all your qualities, strengths, achievements, skills and experiences

Say it Right

1. Use the four steps below:

2. Show you understand the other person’s position

3. Say what you think/feel

4. Say what you want or suggest a solution

5. Ask for a response

o  Use the skills of probing when you are finding it difficult to understand the other person’s position

6. Use replay when you are not being listened to or to maintain your position 

Behave Right

  • Recognise unhelpful body language and use of the voice and replace with positive behaviour

The Four Steps to Say it Right

1. Showing you understand the other person’s position

I realise that…’, ‘I understand that…’, I can see that…’

2. Saying what you feel or think

‘I feel that…’, ‘I think that…’

3. Saying what you want or suggesting a solution

‘I want…’, I’d like…’, ‘How about…’

4. Asking for a response

‘What do you think?’

It all sounds so easy but it isn’t in reality – it’s a hard thing to do.

But with some practice and the right mindset you’ll soon find that you’ll stand up for yourself a lot more often and with that comes more confidence to become even more assertive!

Thanks again



Sean McPheat

Managing Director


(Image by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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