Improving your Assertiveness Skills

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Improving Your Assertiveness Skills
Even if you are not a naturally assertive person, you should now be able to define what assertiveness looks like. However, it can be hard to put those skills into action.
In this lesson, you’ll get some exposure to, and practice with, an assertiveness model to help with those conversations.
Dealing with Tough Issues
We are most likely to retain the goodwill of the person we’re standing up to if we stick with our own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, and avoid direct or implied criticism of the other person. One way to do that is to stick with “I” messages expressed in a matter-of-fact, non-judgmental tone of voice.

“You” Message Reworded as an “I” Message
You talk too loudly. I have sensitive hearing.
You should send out an agenda. I’d like to know what we’re going to discuss in the meeting tomorrow, so I can bring the necessary information with me.

You can use this same type of message when you are giving feedback about someone else’s behavior. Again, the feedback should be non-judgmental, but it should be specific.
There are four steps to this message.


  1. “When you leave your papers scattered all over the office…”
  2. “Both of us have a hard time finding them when you need them again.”
  3. “I feel like I’m responsible for tracking them down, but sometimes I don’t even know where to start.”
  4. “I’d like you to put all those papers in one big pile in that basket on my desk. I could file them at the end of the day, and we would have them when we need them. Would that work for you?”

Remember: When you are stating feelings, state feelings directly, not evaluations or solutions.
Now that you have the tools to improve your assertiveness level, you may be pleasantly surprised at how readily others accept and respect your assertiveness. You must be prepared, however, for the occasional tough cookie who responds aggressively with verbal attacks, put-downs, or demands. When this happens, here are some techniques you can use to respond to the situation:
Speak assertively, but with empathy, to show the other person you have received their message.
Repeat your assertion by repeating your original response, while also responding to legitimate points made by the other person.
Use active listening and open questions to clarify your understanding of the other person’s position.