Being assertive can be harder for some people than others. If you struggle with having assertive conversations, try out these assertiveness techniques – there’s guaranteed to be one that works for you!
This is all about clearly articulating your needs, beliefs, desires, viewpoints or feelings. There is no fluff, no grey area, you are just clearly and succinctly making a statement. For example, “I need to leave at 5pm today’, ‘I want to get to an outcome during this discussion’, ‘That will cost $55’, or ‘I feel angry about that’. The thing that all of these statements have in common is that they are specific, direct and have no unnecessary words that could detract from the point.
This technique requires preparing what it is that you want to say ahead of time, and then simply sticking to this statement throughout the conversation. Here is an example:
Dan: Can I borrow $100?
Rose: I can’t lend you any money. I don’t have enough to spare.
Dan: I’ll pay you back as soon as I can. I really need it! I thought you are my friend, aren’t you?
Rose: I can’t lend you any money Dan.
Dan: I would lend you the money if you were in my situation. You won’t miss $100.
Rose: I am your friend but I can’t lend you any money. I don’t have enough to spare.
You just keep repeating your prepared statement calmly and coolly during the conversation. The benefit of this technique is that the conversation is very unlikely to degenerate into an argument, as you are sticking to one specific statement throughout.
Empathy means putting yourself in someone else shoes, to really understand what they are feeling at a point in time. So empathic assertion takes into account the other person’s feelings, as well as a statement of what you need and want.
Some examples of empathic assertion, are:
‘I know that you are busy at the moment Kathy, but I need you to find a way to get that report complete by Friday.’
‘I appreciate that you don’t agree with the process that head office has designed, however it’s the process that we need to follow, so I’d like you to continue to stick to i.t’
The added benefit of this technique, is it forces you to look at the other persons position, which often results in you feeling less angry and less likely to respond aggressively.
I call this the ‘nuclear option’ for assertive conversations. Consequence assertion is the strongest form of assertion and is definitely something I would recommend pulling out only when you have tried the others and it’s time for the big guns.
This technique requires you to explain to the other person the consequences of them not changing their behavior. It can feel aggressive when you’re on the receiving end, so be away of your non-verbal cues, keeping your voice calm and not too loud, maintaining good eye contact and keeping a relaxed facial expression.
Some examples of consequence assertion are:
‘If this situation occurs again, I will be left with no choice but to commence a formal disciplinary procedure, but I’d really prefer not to.’
‘If you continue to miss deadlines, I am no longer prepared to give you the high profile projects, instead you will be responsible for supporting the other team members.’
Each of these techniques will be suited to different situations. If you feel like you’ve mastered them, you can even combine a couple to get maximum impact!
Need help in developing assertiveness? Book a free chemistry session to discuss how I can help.