Assertion means standing up for what you want. Stating your needs clearly. It means expressing opposition. It means confrontation and it takes courage. Some find it harder than others because of their natural easy-going style and therefore more practice is required. However, the aim should not be just to gain a win. The aim should be to solve the problem and get the best result. Assertion should not be synonymous with aggression because aggressive people adopt an ‘I win – you lose’ mentality to achieve their objectives.
Assertiveness does not come naturally to all because we have all learned passive behaviours to stave off confrontational situations. However these behaviours can be unlearned and assertive behaviour used to produce results that benefit both parties. Assertiveness training courses and workshops can help delegates increase work effectiveness and productivity, achieve greater control of their daily activities and overcome work stressors.
To test your assertiveness there are some typical situations below. Be completely honest with yourself and write down how you would naturally react in each situation.
On a piece of paper, number from 1 to 6. Write your choice a, b, or c after each number.
1. You are in a restaurant and order a steak medium-rare, but it is served to you well-done.
- Accept it without comment because you sometimes like it well-done anyway.
- Angrily refuse the steak and insist on seeing the manager to complain about the poor service.
- Call the waiter and indicate you ordered your steak medium-rare and would like another steak cooked to your requirements.
2. You are a customer waiting in queue to be served in your busy lunch hour. Suddenly, a frail old lady steps in line ahead of you and claims that she is in a hurry.
- Let her stay in front of you since she is already in line and it would be rude to speak out.
- Pull her out of line and, in a loud and angry manner make her go to the back.
- Calmly indicate to her that you are also in a hurry and have queued, then point out where it begins.
3. After walking out of a store where you purchased some items you discover you were short-changed by £3.
- Let it go since you are already out of the store and have no proof you were short-changed. After all it’s only £3.
- Go to the manager and argue that you were cheated by the assistant, then demand the proper change.
- Return to the clerk and inform him/her of the error.
4. You are in a group discussion at work which includes your boss. A colleague asks you a question about your work, but you don’t know the answer.
- Give your colleague a false, but plausible answer so your boss will think you are on top of things.
- Do not answer, but attack your colleague by asking a question you know he/she could not answer.
- Indicate to your colleague you are unsure just now, but offer to give him/her the information later.
5. You are in the middle of watching your favourite television program when your partner comes in and asks you for a non urgent favour which could mean missing the rest of the show.
- Do the favour as quickly as possible, then return to the program to finish watching what is left of it.
- Say “No way, I’m not missing this. You should have asked me earlier.” then finish watching your program.
- Ask if it can wait until the program is over and, if so, do it then.
6. A friend drops into your office to say hello and catch up on the latest office gossip, but is staying too long, preventing you from finishing an important project. Your friend is unaware that he is interrupting your work.
- Let him stay because you don’t want to upset him. Then you would finish your work at home that evening.
- Tell the person to stop bothering you and to get out.
- Explain your need to finish your work and request he/she visit another time.
Score interpretation key
In general, there are three broad styles of interpersonal behaviour. These are:
- Aggressive, and
The “a” choices in the quiz are representative of the Passive style. Thus, the more “a” choices you made, the more passive you are.
a) The Passive style of interpersonal behaviour is characterised by inaction and indecision. People using this style tend to be easy to get along with and pleasant, but unwilling to stand up for their rights, for fear of offending others. They are very uncomfortable expressing anger and usually deny or suppress this feeling should it occur. As a result, resentment can easily build under the surface producing stress and tension.
The “b” choices in the quiz are representative of the Aggressive style. Thus, the more “b” choices you made, the more aggressive you are.
b) The Aggressive style is characterised by intrusiveness. People who use this style tend to go after what they want, but are unconcerned about how this will effect others. Their angry, dominating manner tends to alienate people who, in time, may seek to oppose them. Aggressive individuals are usually suspicious of others and are often on the look out for infractions or violations of their rights. Thus, the Aggressive style produces stress and prohibits the development of close, trusting, and caring interpersonal relationships.
The “c” choices in the quiz are representative of the Assertive style. Thus, the more “c” choices you made, the more assertive you are.
c) The Assertive style is characterised by both fairness and strength. Assertive individuals are able to stand up for their rights, but remain sensitive to the rights of others. People who choose this style are usually relaxed and easy going, but are honest about their feelings. This is the best style for minimising stress and maintaining long-standing intimate relationships.
Look at the “c” answers again. If you move your everyday behaviour closer to the “c” style of response, you will likely experience an increase in feelings of self-esteem and a decrease in feelings of stress.
- managing difficult people
- assertive behaviour
- improving self confidence
- improving assertiveness
- dealing with aggressive people
- managing conflict
- being firm with members of staff
- dealing with bullying at work
This course will allow delegates to develop confidence and self-esteem so that their opinions will no longer go un-noticed in the workplace. Assertiveness training will provide delegates with effective tactics to build courage and defy work bullies. Those who have attended the courses have expressed that becoming more assertive at work was made easier once they applied the techniques gained from the seminar.
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