You have the right to ask for what You want.
You have the right to say no to requests or demands You can’t meet.
You have the right to express Your feelings, positive or negative.
You have the right to change Your mind.
You have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
You have the right to determine Your own priorities.
You have the right not to be responsible for others’ behavior, actions feelings, or problems.
You have the right to expect honesty from others.
You have the right to be angry at someone You love.
You have the right to feel scared and say “I’m afraid.”
You have the right not to give reasons for Your behavior.
You have the right to make decisions based on Your feelings.
You have the right to Your own needs for personal time.
You have the right to be playful and frivolous.
You have the right to be healthier than those around you.
You have the right to be in a non abusive environment.
You have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
TWO Be aware of techniques other people may use to disregard or avoid your requests. Either intentionally or not, people may deny your rights by:
Changing the subject.
Responding with a strong display of emotion (including anger).
Joking or making fun of your request.
Trying to make you feel guilty about your request.
Criticizing or questioning the legitimacy of your request.
Asking you why you want what you asked for.
THREE Practice using the “Broken Record Technique” when meeting with resistance or indifference. The broken record technique consists of stating repeatedly what you want in a calm, direct manner with the persistence of a broken record. You can use this technique in situations where you’re unwilling to do what the other person suggests. Using this technique, you stay focused on what you want and don’t give in to the others person’s will. You simply state what you want as many times as you need to, without change or embellishment. Do NOT back down or give reasons justifying your opinion. Start with “I want…” or “I would like…”
FOUR Fogging is another technique to use with someone who is being critical of you. It involves agreeing in part with the criticism. You honestly agree with some part of the criticism even when you don’t believe all of it. You need to do this in a calm, quiet tone of voice without being defensive or sarcastic. If you don’t agree with the specific criticism, you can agree with the general principle behind the criticism and simply say,”You may be right.” When you agree with people, they have little tendency to come back and criticize or argue with you further. Fogging effectively stops communication before the other person can escalate a disagreement.
FIVE A technique to use when the other person becomes angry or hostile is defusing. It’s a bit like defusing a bomb. Defusing is a delaying tactic best used when someone responds to your assertive request with intense anger or any other extreme display of emotion. In close relationships, it’s important to allow other people to express their strong feelings. Yet at such times they are unlikely to be open to hearing your assertive request. It’s better to say, “I can see that you’ve very upset – let’s discuss this later,” or “Let’s both take a few minutes to calm down.”
SIX An important aspect of being assertive is your ability to say no to requests that you don’t want to meet. Saying no means that you can set limits on other people’s demands for your time and energy when such demands conflict with your own needs and desires. It also means that you can do this without feeling guilty. Although not always necessary, there are some situations (such as in the workplace) when you may want to give the other person some explanation for turning down a request:
- Acknowledge the other person’s request by repeating it (rephrasing.)
- Explain your reason for declining the request in simple terms.
- Say no without apologizing.
- If appropriate, suggest an alternative proposal where both your and the other person’s needs will be met.
SEVEN Practice nonverbal assertiveness. When asking for something, or when turning down an unreasonable request, do the following:
- Maintain eye contact.
- Face the person you are speaking with.
- Be aware of good posture.
- Adapt an “open” posture (no folded arms or hands in pockets).
- Speak slowly, calmly, and deliberately.
- Take your time in formulating a response.
- Silence can also be a very effective assertiveness tool.
EIGHT When asking for something, or making any kind of request to other’s, keep your request simple. Use one or two easy-to-understand sentences. Avoid asking for more than one thing at a time. This will have the effect of having the other person focus on what you are saying, and not perceive your important requests as just another “list of complaints.”
NINE Use I-statements . These type of statements avoid putting other people on the defensive, and avoid blaming the other person for the problem (even when it is their fault.) Practice beginning sentences with the following:
“I would like…”
“I want to…”
“I would appreciate it if…”
“It would make me feel great if…”
“I need more…”
TEN Give yourself reinforcement after you have successfully acted assertively, even if the outcome was not exactly what you wanted. It is very important to be “self-rewarding”. It encourages you to try again and protects you from being overly affected by situations out of your control. Rewards do not have to be monetary. Try listening to a favorite CD, playing a game, or calling a long-distance friend.
These suggestions are only the beginning! For a few more specific examples of assertiveness techniques in action, click on the next button below. As with all the advice on these pages, the suggestions are not meant to be a substitute for individual therapy or counseling, but can be used as a starting point for improvement. If you feel that you have a serious problem with poor self-esteem, self-worth, lack of confidence, or being taken advantage of, please inquire about services available through this website, at the private practice of Fred L. Holtz, Ph.D., or seek other professional sources near you.