Preparing to be Assertive

Posted June 2nd, 2008

We often find that we have time to prepare for most situations where we have to be at our most assertive. This is very useful, but don’t fall into the trap of spending this time having negative feelings about the interaction. Instead, prepare yourself and ensure that you are clear about the approach you are going to take. Some tips are…

  • Be prepared – clarify what you want to say and how you will say it
  • Try to choose the place and time to meet and have a clear idea of what you want
  • Challenge any negative thoughts you might have – instead of thinking ‘I’ll never be able to do it’, try ‘I’ll have a go at this and see how I get on’.
  • Learn to think assertively – avoid words like should, ought, must. Replace these with could, want to, can.

It can also be useful to ‘script’ your side of the conversation in preparation for a difficult interaction. Of course you don’t have to physically write down the conversation and scripting can take place in your head. However, you may feel the process of writing it down will initially help to relax you. One simple process to follow is…

EXPLANATION – Briefly explain the situation as you see it – be as objective as you can FEELINGS – Acknowledge your own feelings and take ownership – show empathy

NEEDS – Outline clearly what you want out of the situation – provide an opportunity for solution

CONSEQUENCES – Outline the consequences of the other person complying – or of not complying!
An example could be…

EXPLANATION – ‘I would like to talk over a problem with you. Recently you have been asking me for reports only a day before you need them. This has meant that I have had to work late into the night to get them completed.’

FEELINGS – ‘I am beginning to get tired and frustrated with this process, and although I can appreciate how important these reports are to you…’

NEEDS – ‘…If there is any way you could request the reports earlier.’

CONSEQUENCES – ‘I’d be really grateful.’This is an excerpt from the workbook in the training material for ‘Assertiveness in Action’, which you can purchase from our website at


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