Assertive Communication

-I am direct and to the point.
-I am honest, but not brutal.
-I respect the rights of others, but not at the expense of my own rights.
-I accept responsibility for my thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
-I take necessary steps to get my needs met.
-I respect other people's feelings, but I know that I am not responsible for them.
-I apologize when I am wrong.
-I admit when I don't know or don't understand something.
-I ask for what I want, and I realize that others are free to refuse me.
-I try to persuade others to my point of view, and I don't give up easily when faced with obstacles.
-I can say "no" to even reasonable requests.
-I can make "I" statements.
-I give my opinion when it's appropriate.
-I ask for help when I need it.
-I can accept compliments, and I can give sincere compliments.
-I refuse to do for others what they can do for themselves.
-I refuse to allow others to do for me what I can do for myself.
-I express my feelings appropriately.
-I listen to others.
-I ask for feedback and advice from others, but I make my own decisions.
-I speak for myself, and I expect others to speak for themselves.
-I set my own limits and boundaries, and I enforce them.
-I can accept constructive criticism.
-I allow others to express different views without insulting or belittling them.
-I am comfortable making eye contact.
-I ask questions and make informed decisions, rather than just automatically believing what is told to me.
-I judge my own strengths and weaknesses.
-People can ask me anything they want to, but I only answer those questions that I want to.
-I can change my mind.
-I can make mistakes without giving up control of my life to someone else because of them.
-I take time for myself.
-I share information with others.
-I consider what other people want, but I don't feel obligated to give them what they want.
-I protest unfair treatment.


Special Techniques for Assertiveness

1. Be as specific and clear as possible about what you want, think, and feel. The following statements project this preciseness:
-"I want to..."
-"I don't want you to..."
-"Would you...?"
-"I liked it when you did that."
-"I have a different opinion. I think that...."
-"I have mixed reactions. I agree with these aspects for these reasons, but I am disturbed about these aspects for these reasons."

It can be helpful to explain exactly what you mean and exactly what you don't mean, such as, "I don't want to break up over this, but I'd like to talk it through and see if we can prevent it from happening again."

Be direct. Deliver your message to the person for whom it is intended. If you want to tell Jane something, tell Jane; do not tell a group of which Jane happens to be a member.

2. "Own" your message. Acknowledge that your message comes from your frame of reference, your conception of good vs. bad or right vs. wrong, your perceptions. You can acknowledge ownership with personalized "I" statements, such as "I don't agree with you," as compared to "You're wrong" OR "I'd like you to mow the lawn" as compared to "You really should mow the lawn, you know." Suggesting that someone is wrong or bad and should change for his or her own benefit, when, in fact, it would please you will only foster resentment and resistance rather than understanding and cooperation.

3. Ask for feedback. "Am I being clear? How do you see this situation? What do you want to do?" Asking for feedback can encourage others to correct any misperceptions you may have as well as help others realize that you are expressing an opinion, feeling, or desire rather than a demand. Encourage others to be clear, direct, and specific in their feedback to you.

As you learn to become more assertive, remember to use your assertive skills selectively. It is not just what you say to someone verbally, but also how you communicate nonverbally with voice tone, gestures, eye contact, facial expression, and posture that will influence your impact on others. You must remember that it takes time and practice, as well as a willingness to accept yourself as you make mistakes, to reach your goal of acting assertively. As you practice your techniques, it is often helpful to have accepting relationships and a supportive environment. People who understand and care about you are your strongest assets.

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