247- Assertiveness Skills
Counselor Toolbox

00:00 / 67:17

Assertiveness Skills
Presented by: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes
Executive Director, AllCEUs
Podcast Host: Counselor Toolbox and Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery

Find CEUs for this podcast on the Counselor Toolbox CEU spreadsheet

~ Define Assertiveness
~ Overcoming the Stress Barrier
~ Overcoming the Social Barrier
~ Overcoming the Belief Barrier
~ Reality Check
~ Nonverbal behavior
~ Giving your opinion
~ Giving constructive (not critical) feedback
~ Making requests without trying to control
What is Assertiveness
~ Assertiveness means stating your feelings, wants and needs
~ Clearly
~ With ownership
~ With conviction…. (but…I don’t know…)

~ Assertive behavior may not be appropriate in all workplaces. Some organizational and national cultures may view assertive behavior as rude or even offensive.
~ Research has also suggested that gender can have a bearing on how assertive behavior is perceived, with men more likely to be rewarded for being assertive than women.
Advantages of Assertiveness
~ Assertiveness helps us feel good about ourselves and others
~ Assertiveness leads to the development of mutual respect with others
~ Assertiveness increases our self-esteem
~ Assertiveness helps us achieve our goals
~ Assertiveness minimizes hurting and alienating other people
~ Assertiveness reduces anxiety
~ Assertiveness protects us from being taken advantage of by others
~ Assertiveness enables us to make decisions and free choices in life
~ Assertiveness enables us to express, both verbally and non-verbally, a wide range of feelings and thoughts, both positive and negative

Why is Assertiveness Important
~ When people are passive or aggressive, their feelings wants and needs are often not heard
~ Direct aggression: bossy, arrogant, bulldozing, intolerant, opinionated, and overbearing
~ Indirect aggression: sarcastic, deceiving, ambiguous, insinuating, manipulative, and guilt-inducing
~ Submissive: wailing, moaning, helpless, passive, indecisive, and apologetic
~ Assertive: direct, honest, accepting, responsible, and spontaneous
~ This lead to feelings of:
~ Isolation
~ Resentment/Anger
~ Depression/Helplessness
The Stress Barrier: Fight, Flee or Freeze
~ Becoming assertive is stressful
~ You have to change the way you interact with others
~ Others have to change the way they interact with you
~ In the past when you were in a stressful situation did you withdraw? Become aggressive? Shut down?
~ The stress response is designed to protect you
~ Ignoring the urge to fight or flee is extremely difficult until assertiveness has proven itself.

The Social Barrier
~ People in your social circle expect you to act and react a certain way.
~ Changing your behavior confuses other people
~ Our egocentric society leads people to expect that if you change your behavior, it has to do with THEM
~ People strive for consistency.
~ If you used to be aggressive, they may interpret the change as depression, disengagement or exploitable weakness
~ If you used to be passive, they may interpret the change as rejection and push away
The Belief Barrier
~ Reality is 90% perception and 10% fact
~ Our interpretations greatly influence our reactions
~ What influences interpretations
~ Vulnerabilities (pain, exhaustion)
~ Prior learning experience
~ Transference and overgeneralization
~ The other person’s nonverbals
Why Not Be Assertive?
~ Failure to be assertive stems from:
~ Prior efforts to be assertive being punished
~ Fear of rejection
~ Need for external validation
~ Assertiveness requires
~ Confidence
~ Emotional control
~ Effective verbal and nonverbal communication skills

Staying Calm
~ Checking your automatic or current beliefs against reality
~ What is my perception of what is going on?
~ What evidence do I have for and against this perception?
~ What were the words?
~ What were the nonverbals?
~ How valid is that evidence?
~ Am I reacting to feelings or FACTS?
~ Am I magnifying or catastrophizing?
~ Have I stated my feelings and needs objectively and clearly?

6 Characteristics of Assertiveness
~ Eye contact: Demonstrates interest, shows sincerity
~ Body posture: Congruent body language will improve the significance of the message
~ Gestures: Appropriate gestures help to add emphasis
~ Voice: A level, well modulated tone is more convincing and acceptable, and is not intimidating
~ Timing: Use your judgement to maximize receptivity and impact
~ Content: How, where and when you choose to comment is probably more important than WHAT you say

Assertive Behaviors
~ Being open in expressing wishes, thoughts and feelings and encouraging others to do likewise.
~ Listening to the views of others and responding appropriately, regardless of whether you agree
~ Accepting responsibilities and delegating to others.
~ Regularly expressing appreciation of others for what they have done or are doing.
~ Being able to admit to mistakes and apologize.
~ Maintaining self-control.
~ Behaving as an equal to others.

Assertive Behaviors
~ Acknowledging that you cannot control other people’s behaviors but you can control how you react to them
~ Being open to criticism and compliments
~ Expressing yourself in a positive way
~ This is a stupid idea. That is one way of doing it. Let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks…
~ You are the laziest employee I have — I know the work can a seem overwhelming. In order for the department to bill, I have to have your reports within 72 hours of service.
~ I hate that restaurant— I would prefer to go to….

Giving Your Opinion
~ We all have opinions.
~ Opinions are qualitative (good, bad, fair, helpful…)
~ Opinions are a combination of the current situation PLUS prior learning
~ Own your opinion
~ Good opinions are based in fact. (…because…)
~ Support your opinion with evidence
~ Did you like that movie?
~ Yes (or no), because…
~ If the opinion is negative, identify what you would change
~ Respect other’s opinions
I Statements
~ Three specific elements:
~ Behavior
~ Feeling
~ Tangible effect (consequence to you)

Techniques for Becoming Assertive
~ Behavioral rehearsal
~ Repeated assertion (stay focused/avoid getting side tracked)
~ Fogging allows you to receive criticism comfortably
~ acknowledge the criticism, agree that there may be some truth to what they say, but remain the judge of your choice of action
~ Workable compromise
Constructive Feedback
~ Constructive feedback is objective and measurable.
~ Lazy vs. has failed to complete his assignments for the past 3 weeks
~ Stupid vs. Has difficulty with following basic instructions for opening his register
~ Provides information that a person can choose to address and/or presents an actionable problem
~ Provide possible solutions and develop an action plan.
Making Requests (win/win)
~ State the reason for your request
~ “I am feeling exhausted and overwhelmed trying to manage all of these tasks.”
~ “I recognize that as a result my work product has gone down.”
~ “I am having difficulty prioritizing”
~ State what you need in the situation
~ “I need help prioritizing which of these tasks is most important to you.”
~ “Or, I need some assistance so I can produce a quality product in a timely manner.”

Say “No”
~ Poor time management leads to stress and irritability and the downfall of assertiveness
~ Get in touch with what is important
~ Rich and meaningful life
~ At work
~ Learn how to say “No” assertively
~ No—I’d rather not
~ No– But yes if it is an emergency
~ No under any circumstances
Group Activities
~ Ask someone who you feel is fairly assertive to sit on a chair in the middle of the room.
~ Select 4 other people and assign them a behavior type – assertive, aggressive, passive, passive-aggressive and advise them that their task is to persuade the person on the chair to relinquish the chair.
~ A variation on this is to give the person in the chair a box of chocolates and have people take turns getting them to share those.

Group Activities
~ Rehearsals: Create a passive, passive aggressive, aggressive and assertive response for each situation.
~ Situation: The waitress brings you the wrong drink
~ Situation: A new colleague, with whom you share an office, smokes continuously. You dislike the smell of smoke.
~ Situation: You are feeling put upon at work and decide to ask for a raise.
~ Situation: You are waiting to pay for some shopping but the two sales assistants are deep in conversation and appear to be ignoring you.
~ Situation: Your employer expects you to take on extra work but your existing work load is already very heavy.
~ Situation: You make a mistake at work and your supervisor tells you off in a very abrupt and angry manner.
Steps to Being Assertive
~ Know your human needs
~ Biological needs
~ Safety and security
~ Creation, participation, contribution
~ Love, belonging, understanding, significance
~ Self-Esteem, growth, autonomy
~ Pay special attention to those universal needs that you think are not important to you.
~ Explore if you are using self-deception or denial and why (I didn’t want that promotion anyway.)
~ Connect your severe negative emotions (anger, anxiety, depression, envy etc.) to the fear of your specific needs not being met
Steps to Being Assertive
~ Identify areas where you are and are not assertive.
~ Example: You might be very assertive intellectually, but very passive when it comes to talking to the opposite sex
~ Areas
~ Physical space
~ Making new relationships
~ Intimate activities
~ Setting boundaries
~ Public or large groups
~ Authority figures
~ Money matters
~ Creativity

Steps to Being Assertive
~ Face your fears and practice being assertive with moderate self-exposure
~ Example of practicing assertiveness with the opposite sex:
~ Ask a person you like what time it is
~ Ask ten people of the opposite sex what time it is
~ Ask 3 people of the opposite sex for directions and their opinion on what to do in town
~ Ask ten people of the opposite sex the same thing
~ Ask 10 people of the opposite sex for their email/phone number

Steps to Being Assertive
~ Face your fears cont…
~ Example 2
~ Join a meetup and introduce yourself to a few people
~ Say your first no
~ Ask for a raise when you complete a demanding project
~ Don’t run away from conflict, but try to manage it (plan ahead)
~ Find one thing you like about someone you dislike and compliment it
~ Smile the next time somebody cuts you off

Steps to Being Assertive
~ Develop your social skills to improve your self-confidence
~ Read 10 different books in an area where you are not assertive
~ Join a public speaking course, if you’re terrified of public appearances
~ Practice negotiating with a friend, if you’re afraid of heated discussions
~ Learn how to manage difficult people and conflict resolution skills, if you have difficult people in your life (aggressive, martyr, borderline, narcissistic)

Dealing with Guilt and Shame
~ After doing an assertive act, you may feel shame or guilt, especially if you’re rejected.
~ You may assume it’s not okay to have your needs met, or you think you don’t deserve it.
~ With every small exposure will realize that it feels good to meet your needs and that it’s okay to do so. Be patient and persistent.
~ Reinforce the healthy belief that you have needs like everyone else and that it’s your basic right to meet them in a healthy and respectful manner.
~ Dig deep why you really feel guilt or shame; what kind of errors were made in your upbringing that put a tough emotional burden on your assertiveness.
~ It’s a great chance to talk back to your inner critic and consciously decide to take good care of yourself and your needs.
~ Acknowledge guilt or shame, make room for it, write down why it’s so tough, talk to other people and then let it go.
~ Assertive communication means stating your feelings, thoughts and needs in a respectful, but owning manner
~ Social barriers are those created when you start acting differently than those in your social circle expect.
~ Belief barriers are those automatic thoughts and schemas that help interpret events based on past learning
~ When being assertive, it is best to provide your opinion or observation supported by facts.
~ When making requests, it is ideal to create a win/win by pointing our what is currently wrong, what needs to happen and how that will benefit both parties.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.