Assertiveness Techniques That Give You Power and How to Stand Up for Yourself
By Linnda Durré, Ph.D.
Assertiveness training is one of the most important tools for managers. Rid
yourself of childhood restrictions, fear, hesitation, and social
misinformation. Know the difference between being aggressive - bullying,
yelling, screaming, intimidation - and being assertive - being diplomatic,
strong, factual, clear, and firm, which can successfully solve interpersonal
difficulties with your employees and in your life. Stop being a martyr, a
victim, and a doormat. Avoid blaming other people for your situation.
Believe that there is a workable resolution. Take responsibility and stand
up for yourself to get what you need and want from others in a caring,
direct way. Good managers know how to be positive, identify the faulty
behavior, and focus quickly on a win/win solution.
Here are the steps of assertiveness:
1) State the Problem -- Use "The Sandwich Technique" - Start out with a
positive compliment about the person, then go directly to the problem and
give feedback stating it clearly and giving examples of the toxic or faulty
behavior and how you want it to change, and then end on a positive note of
what you'd like to have happen..
Bob: "Jack, you are a valued co-worker here, and we've been working together
for five years. We've noticed your work isn't in on time and I'm wondering
what's wrong. It's unlike you. Is there anything I or the company can do to
help you meet your deadlines?"
2) State Your Feelings -- Say how the person's behavior makes you feel. Use
words like frustrated, angry, and annoyed. Be specific. Avoid accusations
Bob: "When your work isn't completed on time, it slows up the whole
department because we all depend on your reports. When you don't give me
advance notice, I can't make arrangements with the others. I need to know
what's wrong so we can correct it. When you don't tell me what's happening,
I feel cut out of the loop, powerless, and frustrated."
3) Offer Solutions -- Give the person various options for their behavior and
how much better it would be when behavior changes.
Bob: "What can I do to help you to get the reports in on time? Do you need
another administrative assistant for a few days? Do you need to partner up
with someone to share the workload? Are there any problems at work I can
take care of? Let me know so we can fix it."
4) Give An Ultimatum -- If the situation doesn't improve, you'll have to
issue an ultimatum. Some people like to include it with the first
conversation so the other person knows where they stand. State what you
intend to do if compliance isn't achieved like reporting it to the boss or
Bob: "If you can't get the reports in on time, let me know immediately. If
your work continues to be late you are jeopardizing your position at the
company and you may be demoted or fired. I may have to report it to our boss
or HR if it's not corrected and I'd rather not have to do that, so please
get the reports in on time."
5) Look and Listen -- Hear the person's response and their feedback. Be
quiet and listen to what the person is saying and how they're saying it.
Observe their body language. Know they saying between the lines. Use Active
Listening techniques to establish rapport by paraphrasing what you hear.
Bob: "I understand that you thought you could get it done without coming to
me, and now you see you couldn't do it. I know how hard you're working and
what pressure you must feel."
6) Dialogue -- Have an honest discussion, listen, don't interrupt each
other, and comment on each thing the person says--be prepared to hear them
remark on each thing you have said and respond accordingly.
Bob: "I'm not here to blame you, I'm here to find a win/win solution that
works for all of us. Let's see how we can remedy this. Perhaps an assistant
will be the solution. Let me schedule an assistant and get this process
started right now."
7) Resolution -- Decide what the action plan will be and agree on it,
perhaps in writing.
Bob: "So, Jack, our agreement is that I'll schedule you for an assistant for
several weeks so you'll be able to catch up and get your reports in on
8) Follow Up -- Send a letter and/or email summarizing the discussion and
what the decision was. He should cc it to whoever might also be affected -
bosses, other co-workers, and HR to cover himself and others. He can email
it, and I recommend hand delivering it so people can't say, "I never got
it." According to a tech consultant, approximately 5%-7% of all emails never
reach their intended place. Add a sentence at the end, like, "If you have
any questions about or additions to this memo, please respond in writing."
This allows the co-worker recourse to respond, and insures that you have
covered your back, which is crucial in any company, whether you are the
co-worker, boss, or owner. People can say, "I never said that," or "I didn't
agree to that," but if you put it in writing, then you're covered. Ask them
to send a reply email, agreeing to the solution.
These steps of assertiveness can assist and empower you, whether you're a
co-worker, manager, or a boss in dealing with toxic situations. Be clear,
firm, and compassionate. Stay focused, communicate honestly and open, and
cooperate for a win/win solution. It works!
Linnda Durré, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, business consultant, corporate
trainer, national speaker, and columnist. She has hosted and co-produced
two live call-in TV shows, including "Ask The Family Therapist" on America's
Health Network, which was associated with Mayo Clinic. She is the author of
"Surviving The Toxic Workplace: Protect Yourself Against Co-Workers, Bosses,
and Work Environments That Poison Your Day" (2010 - McGraw-Hill). She has
been interviewed on Oprah, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, Good Morning America,
and O'Reilly, and the national and/or local news on ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, PBS,
Fox and CW. She has written for Forbes, Orlando Business Journal, and
American Cities Business Journals. For more information about her consulting
or speaking, contact her at Linnda.Durre@gmail.com and 407-739-8620.