Assertiveness

Learn how to be assertive using several techniques.

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'I' statements

Learning how to stand up for ourselves while still respecting the needs and limits of other people can take a lot of practice. Remember to be kind to yourself if some of these interpersonal skills are new. The important thing is that you are making a choice now to do things differently.

Using 'I' statements to ask for something is a helpful way to express your needs and desires in a more assertive and respectful manner. 'I statements' are structured in a way that focuses on your feelings, thoughts, and needs, rather than making judgements, demands or blaming others.

This involves breaking down the message to another person into three parts.

  • Describe what the other person is doing that is bothering you, using a neutral description, without blaming or abusive language

  • Say how you feel and why the problem situation is an issue for you, without blaming or exaggerating

  • Say what you’d like from the person and open up the issue for negotiation.

Here's how you can construct an 'I' statement to ask for something:

For example:

My housemate plays loud music when I am trying to listen to my favourite program on the TV:

  • "When you have the volume up high on your radio while I’m watching my favourite show"

  • "I feel annoyed because it’s difficult to hear the TV"(using an ‘I’ statement about your feelings rather than using blaming language helps with goal of maintaining the relationship).

  • "What can we do about this? Would you mind keeping your door shut?"

(compare with a statement like "Why do you always have the music up so loud when I’m watching my favourite show?"  Which approach do you feel would be more helpful?)

OR other examples:

  • "I can’t think/hear……."

  • "…….when I’m being yelled at ………."

  • "…..as we discussed* I’ll go for a walk around the block and be back in 5 minutes and we can continue this discussion in normal voices".

*It’s important to have a discussion around what you can or can’t do when everyone is calm. During heightened emotions it is difficult to think logically. See some ideas around developing a plan on the Strike whilst the iron is cool page.

'Broken Record'

The 'Broken Record' technique is a communication strategy that’s often used in assertiveness training and conflict resolution to help you effectively assert your needs, boundaries, or requests in a clear and repetitive manner.

  • It is particularly useful when dealing with situations where you feel others may be trying to pressure or manipulate you into changing your stance or making a decision that you are not comfortable with. The technique gets its name from the idea of repeating your message like a broken record.

  • If the other person tries to challenge or push back on your statement, calmly and politely repeat your message without becoming defensive or argumentative. Use the same or similar wording as your initial statement.

  • Keep your focus on your message and avoid getting sidetracked by the other person's attempts to change the subject or divert your attention.

  • It's important to keep a neutral and composed tone during the conversation. Avoid becoming emotional or confrontational, as this can undermine the effectiveness of the technique.

  • Sometimes, it may take several repetitions before the other person begins to accept your stance or understand that you are not going to change your mind.

  • Refrain from justifying, arguing, defending, or explaining your position excessively. The goal is to assert your boundaries or needs without feeling the need to provide extensive reasoning or justification.

  • Be prepared to negotiate (if appropriate). Depending on the situation, you can offer alternatives or compromises that are acceptable to you while still staying true to your core message.