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Assertiveness Skills

Being assertive (not aggressive) enables a person to legitimize their personal rights, emphasize personal boundaries and demonstrate integrity.

Assertiveness Bill of Rights

  • To say "no" and not feel guilty
  • To change your mind about anything
  • To take your time forming a response to a comment or question
  • To ask for assistance with instructions or directions
  • To ask for what you want
  • To experience and express your feelings
  • To feel positive about yourself under any conditions
  • To make mistakes without feeling embarrassed or guilty
  • To own your own opinions and convictions
  • To protest unfair treatment or criticism
  • To be recognized for your significant achievements and contributions

Assertiveness Skills

  • Learn to say “no” without feeling guilty. You can’t be all things to all people.
  • Learn to use “I” statements and claim ownership of your thoughts and feelings.  Ex. “I get frustrated when you are late.”
  • Use eye contact, which conveys confidence and a sense of equality.
  • Use assertive body language – clear tone of voice and erect posture.
  • Practice rational disagreement:  Acknowledge points of view that are different from yours.  Agree to disagree.  Strength of character comes from considering an issue from many angles, and being ready to either stand your ground or change your mind if new information becomes available.
  • Avoid manipulation (self or others) which includes intimidation, dominating, sidetracking, interrupting, personal attacks or avoidance and denial.
  • Respond vs. react.  Give yourself the time you need to make a reasoned response that gives you a sense of self-control and the ability to see the situation clearly.
  • Avoid giving mixed messages between words and actions.  Ex. Using a strong “I” statement but not looking directly at the person, or being slump shouldered emphasizes uncertainty.

 Some material adapted from B.L. Seaward, Managing Stress