The Assertiveness Inventory

Read each statement and record the number that describes you best.  For some questions the assertive end of the scale is at 0, for others at 3.   Adapted from Robert E. Alberti & Michael L. Emmons “Your Perfect Right.”

           0                 1                      2                   3

             No             Somewhat            A Good Deal           Entirely

           Never           Sometimes               Usually                Always

1.            When someone is highly unfair, do you call it to attention?

2.            Do you find it difficult to make decisions?

3.            Are you openly critical of others’ ideas, opinions, and behavior?

4.            Do you say something if someone cuts in front of you in line?

5.            Do you often avoid people or situations for fear of embarrassment?

6.            Do you usually have confidence in your own judgement?

7.            Do you insist that your spouse or roommate take on a fair share of household chores?

8.            Are you prone to “fly off the handle?”

9.            When a salesperson makes an effort, do you find it hard to say “No” even though the merchandise is not what you want?

10.        When a latecomer is waited on before you are, do you call attention to the situation?

11.        Are you reluctant to speak up in a discussion or debate?

12.        If a person has borrowed money (or a book , garment, thing of value) and is overdue in returning it, do you mention it?

13.        Do you continue to pursue an argument after the other person has had enough?

14.        Do you generally express what you feel?

15.        Are you disturbed if someone watches you while you’re working on something?

16.        If someone keeps kicking or bumping your chair in a movie or lecture, do you ask them to stop?

17.        Do you find it difficult to keep eye contact when talking to another person?

18.        In a restaurant, when your meal is improperly prepared or served, do you ask the server to correct the situation?

19.        When you discover new merchandise is faulty, do you return it for replacement or refund?

20.        Do you show your anger by name-calling or obscenities?

21.        Do you try to be a wallflower or a piece of the furniture in social situations?

22.        Do you insist that your property manager (mechanic, repairman, etc.) make repairs, adjustments, or replacements which are his/her responsibility?

23.        Do you often step in and make decisions for others?

24.        Are you able to express love and affection openly?

25.        Are you able to ask your friends for small favors or help?

26.        Do you think you always have the right answer?

27.        When you differ with someone you respect, are you able to speak up for your own viewpoint?

28.        Are you able to refuse unreasonable requests made by friends?

29.        Do you have difficulty complimenting or praising others?

30.        If you are disturbed by someone smoking near you, can you say so?

31.        Do you should or use bullying tactics to get others to do as you wish?

32.        Do you finish other people’s sentences for them?

33.        Do you get into physical fights with others, especially with strangers?

34.        At family meals, do you control the conversation?

35.        When you meet a stranger, are the first to introduce yourself and begin a conversation?

Analyzing the Results of Your Assertiveness Inventory



1.      Don't bother adding up a total score.  It has no meaning.  No general quality of "assertiveness" has been identified by research.  "What is assertive" must be answered in terms of the person and the situation.


2.      Look at your responses to questions 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 217, 28, 30, and 35.  These questions are oriented toward nonassertive behavior.  Do your answers to these items tell you that you are rarely speaking up for yourself?  Which specific situations which give you trouble?


3.      Look at your responses to questions 3, 8, 13, 20, 23, 26, 29, 31`, 32, 33, and 34.  These questions are oriented toward aggressive behavior.  Do your answers to these questions suggest you are pushing others around more than you realized?


4.      Most people confirm that assertiveness is situational in their lives.  No one is nonassertive all the time, aggressive all the time, or assertive all the time.  Each person behaves in each of these three ways at various times, depending upon the situation.  It is possible that you have a characteristic style that leans heavily in one direction.  You may discover areas for improvement and thereby begin the process of change.


5.      Re-read the inventory and write down your feelings about those events and situations which give you trouble.  For example:

Question 1: When a person is highly unfair, do you call it to attention?

Response: 0

My Feelings: I'm afraid that if I said anything, the other person would become very angry.  Perhaps I'd lose a friend or maybe the person would yell at me.  That would upset me a lot.


6.      Draw some general conclusions regarding four aspects of your analysis:

1.      What situations give you trouble?  Which can you handle easily?

2.      What are your attitudes about expressing yourself?  Does it feel right?

3.      What obstacles are in the way of you being assertive?  Is it the consequences?  Do people make it difficult to be assertive?

4.      Are your behavior skills up to the job?  Can you express yourself assertively when you need to?




Conflict Management Strategies


         Walk away or blast the stereo/tv to drown out conversation

         Refuse to discuss the conflict or to listen to the other's argument


         Using emotional or physical force to make the other compliant



         Single out one person on whom all the responsibility for the problem lies

         Mind-reading: Attribute ill-motives to the other by assuming you know their intent


         Cry, yell, or scream to silence the other person

         Develop a "physical" reaction: Headaches or shortness of breath


         Unload stored-up grievances whenever a conflict arises

         Bring up past complaints to avoid discussing the problem


         Get the other individual into a receptive and noncombative frame of mind

         Then present your demands to your now-weakened opponent

Personal Rejection

         Withhold love and affection from the other in conflict

         Demoralize the other, make them feel less than worthy to get your own way

Fighting Below the Belt

         Beltlining: Inflict emotional damage by bringing up other's inabilities and failures




Conflict Management Strategies

Fighting Actively

            If needed, announce that a cooling-off period is necessary before discussing the issue

            Take responsibility for your thoughts and feelings using "I-Language”


         Talk and listen instead of using force

         Be open to their opinions and arguments


         Try to see the situation as the other person does

         Validate their feelings where appropriate: Does not requirement agreement on issues

Facilitating Open Expression

         Grant the other permission to express themselves freely and openly

         Avoid power tactics that suppress or inhibit the other, like "You owe me."

Present Focus

         Focus your conflict on the here and now: Not on issues that occurred two months ago

         Focus your conflict on the person with whom you are fighting, not their mother, etc.


         Express your feelings with candid honesty

         Don't plan a strategy to win a war: Aim for understanding & agreement on decisions

Personal Acceptance

         Express positive feelings for the other and for the relationship

         Offset harsh words by expressions of caring and commitment

Fighting Above the Belt

      Be sensitive to the other's insecurities and only bring up issues the other can handle

Conflict Styles Survey

Below are proverbs that reflect conflict strategies.  As you read each proverb, ask yourself: "How desirable is this strategy as a method for resolving conflict?"  Use the following scale to rate the desirability of each statement below.

           1                         2                               3                               4                      5

   completely         undesirable          neither desirable            desirable             very

   undesirable                                      nor undesirable                                     desirable

¾    1.         You scratch my back; I'll scratch yours.

¾    2.         When two quarrel, he who keeps silent first is the most praiseworthy.

¾    3.         Soft words win hard hearts.

¾    4.         A person who will not flee will make his foe flee.

¾    5.         Come and let us reason together.

¾    6.         It is easier to refrain than to retreat from a quarrel.

¾    7.         Half a loaf is better than none.

¾    8.         A question must be answered by knowledge, not by numbers, if it's to have a right decision.

¾    9.         When someone hits you with a stone, hit him with a piece of cotton.

¾    10.       The arguments of the strongest always have the most weight.

¾    11.       By digging and digging, the truth is discovered.

¾    12.       Smooth words make smooth ways.

¾    13.       If you cannot make a man think as you do, make him do as you do.

¾    14.       He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.

¾    15.       A fair exchange brings no quarrel.

¾    16.       Might overcomes right.

¾    17.       Tit for Tat is fair play.

¾    18.       Kind words are worth much and cost little.

¾    19.       Seek 'til you find, and you'll not lose your labor.

¾    20.       Kill your enemies with kindness.

¾    21.       He loses least in a quarrel who keeps his tongue in cheek.

¾    22.       Try, and trust will move mountains.

¾    23.       Put your foot down where you mean to stand.

¾    24.       One gift for another makes good friends.

¾    25.       Don't stir up a hornet's nest.

Transfer your rating numbers to the blanks below.

The numbers correspond to the proverb numbers.  Total each column. 


5                                4                            1                            2                               3                 

8                              10                            7                            6                             12                 

11                            13                          15                            9                             18                 

19                            16                          17                          14                             20                 

22                            23                          24                          21                             25                 


          Column 1              Column 2              Column 3              Column 4                 Column 5



Each of the above columns contains statements that reflect the following conflict styles.

Column 1 = Win-Win Problem Solving; Assertive

Column 2 = Forcing; Aggressive

Column 3 = Compromising

Column 4 = Withdrawing; Non-Assertive

Column 5 = Smoothing; Accommodating



Verbal Aggressiveness Self-Assessment

This scale is designed to measure how people try to influence others.  For each statement, indicate the extent to which you feel it is true for you in your attempts to influence others.  Use the following scale:

           1                      2                            3                      4                            5

       almost              rarely               occasionally          often                     almost

    never true             true                        true                  true                  always true

¾    1.      I am very careful to avoid attacking individuals' intelligence when I attack their ideas.

¾    2.      When individuals are very stubborn, I use insults to soften the stubbornness.

¾    3.      I try very hard to avoid having other people feel bad about themselves when I try to influence them.

¾    4.      When people refuse to do a task I know is important, without good reason, I tell them they are unreasonable.

¾    5.      When others do things I regard as stupid, I try to be extremely gentle with them.

¾    6.      If individuals I am trying to influence really deserve it, I attack their character.

¾    7.      When people behave in ways that are in very poor taste, I insult them in order to shock them into proper behavior.

¾    8.      I try to make people feel good about themselves even when their ideas are stupid.

¾    9.      When people simply will not budge on a matter of importance, I lose my temper and say rather strong things to them.

¾    10.    When people criticize my shortcomings, I take it in good humor and do not try to get back at them.

¾    11.    When individuals insult me, I get a lot of pleasure out of really telling them off.

¾    12.    When I dislike someone, I try not to show it in what I say or how I say it.

¾    13.    I like poking fun at people who do things that are very stupid in order to stimulate their intelligence.

¾    14.    When I attack a person's ideas, I try not to damage their self-concept.

¾    15.    When I try to influence people, I make a great effort not to offend them.

¾    16.    When people do things that are mean or cruel, I attack their character in order to help correct their behavior.

¾    17.    I refuse to participate in arguments when they involve personal attacks.

¾    18.    When nothing seems to work in trying to influence others, I yell and scream in order to get some movement from them.

¾    19.    When I am not able to refute someone's position, I try to make them feel defensive in order to weaken their position.

¾    20.    When an argument shifts to personal attacks, I try very hard to change the subject.

Transfer your rating numbers to the blanks below.

The numbers correspond to the statement numbers.

Step 1:        Add your scores for items 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 16, 18, 19

Step 2:        Add your scores on items 1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 20

Step 3:        Subtract the sum obtained in Step 2 from 60.

Step 4:        Add total obtained in Step 1 to result obtained in Step 3.  Compare to below.


2                                      1                 

4                                      3                 

6                                      5                 

7                                      8                 

9                                    10                 

11                                  12                 

13                                  14                 

16                                  15                 

18                                  17                 

19                                  20                 


       Step 1                          Step 2



59-100            High Verbal Aggressiveness

39-58              Moderate Verbal Aggressiveness

20-38              Low Verbal Aggressiveness



What is Verbal Aggressiveness?

Verbal aggressiveness is a method of winning an argument by inflicting psychological pain by attacking the other person's self-concept.

It seeks to discredit the individual's view of self.

Verbal aggressiveness occurs when you fight for your position by personally attacking the other person.

The technique relies on many of the unproductive conflict strategies described earlier.

Consider alternative ways of getting your point across.


Source: Verbal Aggressivenss by Dominic Infante and C.J. Wigley, Communication Mongraphs 53, 1986.

Argumentativeness Self-Assessment

Indicate how often each of these statements is true for you according to the following scale:

           1                      2                            3                         4                      5

       almost              rarely               occasionally             often               almost

    never true             true                        true                     true            always true

¾    1.      While in an argument, I worry that the person I am arguing with will form a negative impression of me.

¾    2.      Arguing over controversial issues improves my intelligence.

¾    3.      I enjoy avoiding arguments.

¾    4.      I am energetic and enthusiastic when I argue.

¾    5.      Once I finish an argument, I promise myself that I will not get into another.

¾    6.      Arguing with a person creates more problems for me than it solves.

¾    7.      I have a pleasant, good feeling when I win a point in an argument.

¾    8.      When I finish arguing with anyone, I feel nervous and upset.

¾    9.      I enjoy a good argument over a controversial issue.

¾    10.    I get an unpleasant feeling when I realize I am about to get into an argument

¾    11.    I enjoy defending my point of view on an issue.

¾    12.    I am happy when I keep an argument from happening.

¾    13.    I do not like to miss the opportunity to argue a controversial issue.

¾    14.    I prefer being with people who rarely disagree with me.

¾    15.    I consider an argument an exciting intellectual challenge.

¾    16.    I find myself unable to think of effective points during an argument.

¾    17.    I feel refreshed and satisfied after an argument on a controversial issue.

¾    18.    I have the ability to do well in an argument.

¾    19.    I try to avoid getting into arguments.

¾    20.    I feel excitement when I expect a conversation I am in is leading to an argument.


Argumentativeness refers to your willingness to argue for a point of view, your tendency to speak your mind on significant issues.

It is the preferred alternative to verbal aggressiveness because it involves fighting for your position by focusing on the issues and expressing respect for the other person.

People are not the problem.  Center arguments on issues, not personalities.

Avoid interrupting.

Stress areas of agreement.

Avoid loud voices or vulgar expressions.

Allow others to save face.  Never humiliate others. 


Source: Arguing Constructively by Dominic Infante.  Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, Inc., 1988.

Thinking Critically about Argumentativeness

Transfer your rating numbers to the blanks below.

The numbers correspond to the statement numbers.

Step 1:        Add your scores for items 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 18, 20

Step 2:        Add 60 to the sum obtained in Step 1

Step 3:        Add your scores on items 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 19

Step 4:        Subtract total obtained in Step 3 to result obtained in Step 2.  Compare to below.


2                                      1                 

4                                      3                 

7                                      5                 

9                                      6                 

11                                    8                 

13                                  10                 

15                                  12                 

17                                  14                 

18                                  16                 

20                                  19                 


       Step 1                          Step 3





73-100      High Argumentativeness: Strong tendency to state position on controversial issues and argue against the positions of others; Argument is seen as exciting, intellectually challenging, and an opportunity to win a type of contest; May experience communication difficulties; Perceived as arguing too frequently and too forcefully

56-72        Moderate Argumentativeness: Possess some qualities of the high argumentative and some qualities of the low argumentative; Often interpersonally skilled and adaptable, Argues when necessary, but avoids needless and repetitive arguments

20-55        Low Argumentativeness: Tries to prevent arguments; experiences satisfaction from avoiding arguments; Arguing is unpleasant and unsatisfying; No confidence in his or her ability to argue effectively; May experience communication difficulties