Assertive Message


Assertive People:

·         Stand up for themselves & act in their own best interests

·         Directly confront problems, look for win-win, demonstrate respect

·         Handle conflict skillfully by expressing needs, thoughts, feelings clearly & directly w/o judging others or dictating to them

·         Believe it’s possible to resolve problems to everyone’s satisfaction

·         Maintains self-respect of both interactants

·         May feel awkward while working through problem, but feel better about selves & each other after


Five-Part Assertive Message

An assertive message is what you say to others to communicate about a problematic behavior or situation.

1.      Describe the Behavior

a)      Set the context by describing their behavior objectively.

b)      Avoid labels (e.g. jerk) or judgments (e.g. wrong).

c)      Example:         “I’ve noticed you tend to cancel at the last minute when we have plans to go out.”

2.      Interpretation

a)      Interpret the “why” of their actions in a positive light.

b)      Demonstrate empathy and understanding.  Give 'em an “out”.

c)      Example:         “I realize you don't mean to inconvenience me...”

3.      Feelings

a)      Use “I” Language to explain your feelings about their behavior

b)      Emphasize emotions (angry, hurt, happy, sad, confused, etc.).

c)      Example:         “…yet I’m frustrated….”

4.      Significance

a)      Explain why you feel the way you do (why this behavior bothers you)

b)      You could also explain how their behavior effects you, them, and/or others

c)      Use this to explain why you feel the way you do or use it to justify why you want something different.

d)      Example:         “…because I could have made other plans.”

5.      Action

a)      Select one or more of the following options

b)      Request action from them they can give and be specific

·         Do not make demands.

·         Example:         “Would you let me know at least a day before if there is the slightest chance you won’t be able to make it next time so I can be prepared?”

c)      Describe the positive consequences of their cooperation (tangible & intangible)

·         Example:         “We always have such fun when we go out!  I’d hate for it to end!”

d)      Describe where you stand on the issue OR how you plan to act in the future

·         Do not make threats with negative consequences

·        Example:         “Let’s not make plans anymore.  Let’s just get together at the spur-of-the-moment.