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Extremely Comfortable Extremely Uncomfortable

How do I feel - 10.…9…...8…..7..…6….. 5…..4…..3…..2….1

Telling someone that I like them?

Starting a conversation with someone I

don’t know very well?

Giving someone a compliment?

Telling someone that I feel hurt?

Giving myself praise?

Standing up for my beliefs even if I’m

under pressure?

Telling someone I’m annoyed?

Saying ‘No’/turning down a request?

Making a complaint?

Asking for a favour?

Starting a conversation?

Ending a conversation?

Going into a room full of strangers?

Dealing with criticism?

Assertive Communication (Handout) VD

Extremely Comfortable Extremely Uncomfortable

How do I feel - 10.…9…..8…..7..…6….. 5…..4…..3…..2….1

Dealing with people in authority?

Expressing an opinion in a group?

Talking about myself in a positive


Being the center of attention in a


Showing annoyance?

Refusing to be put down?

Standing up for yourself/ making a


Assertive Communication (Handout) VD

Some Guidelines
1. TIMING is very important - If something is ongoing it is a good idea to suggest to the other
person that you need to talk and agree a good time to do it. It is much easier to sort things out
when both people are calm and not when the row starts.
- Do not do it when people are tired, are drunk or when others are around to take sides.
- Sort things out as soon as possible after they happen – immediately, if you think it is
appropriate. Sometimes, however, it is better to wait, especially if the other person is angry,
confused, drunk, upset, defensive and not inclined to listen.

2. LISTEN - this is the hardest part! We frequently take a remark to mean something other than
what the other person intended. Listen carefully, trying to be open to the criticism and if you
are not sure what the other person is saying, check it out. Take a deep breath and say to
yourself – ‘I can handle this. We will sort this one out!’ or something similar. Keep listening and
let the other person know you’re listening by looking at them, checking out what they are
saying, saying you understand. Try not to be defensive. When you say something, give the other
person a chance to respond. Slow down the exchange.

4. DESCRIBE THE BEHAVIOUR and how it affects you – do not label the person - Example:
Teenager says to mother: “You’re such a nag!” (Suggested alternative – “Mum when you start
on about my room, I just switch off and get really annoyed. You do it very often”). Mum says:
“And you are the untidiest person I have ever seen”. (Suggested alternative – “Amit, when you
leave your clothes all over the floor and coffee cups under your bed, I get annoyed. I often feel
I’m taken for granted and I resent it. So I’m not prepared to pick your things up after you any

4. CHECK THE MOTIVE – “Is my intention to be helpful? Do I really want to improve things
between us and not just get at the other person?” There needs to be some trust and caring
between the people involved. It helps to say what you do appreciate or like as well as dealing
with the present issue. Say why it is important for you that you sort out this problem between
you. Check with the other person on how what you are saying is affecting them.

5. MAKE A CLEAR REQUEST – Say clearly what you would like the other person to do or stop
doing. Of course, it must be something the person can do something about. There is not point
in being annoyed that you are not allowed to go to the pictures if money is very tight and your
parents are already worried about it.

6. CHECK WITH EACH OTHER at the end on whether you have reached an agreement and agree
to discuss it again if either person is not happy.

Assertive Communication (Handout) VD

7 Seven signs you are not as self-aware as you think!
You're a bully. If you didn't have emotions, you wouldn't be human. Feelings are important guidance
mechanisms. Anger and aggression are no different. They're signs that you feel threatened or scared.
You go on the offensive and bully to protect something deep within you, something you don't want
people to see, often feelings of weakness and vulnerability. Ironic, isn't it?

You're defensive. When chief executives resist a consultant or executive coach who wants to meet with
their staff or outside directors one-on-one, when genuine and objective feedback makes them agitated
or even angry, that's a sure sign. I'm not even sure why they call it "defensive, since defensive people
almost always deflect by going on the offensive.

You're controlling. When you behave in a controlling way--when you micromanage, pick on the little
things--it usually means you're not dealing with a big thing that's really bugging you. It means you're not
paying attention to something really important. Left unchecked, that can definitely take you down a
dark path.

You're passive aggressive. When you say, "Sure, no problem," then turn around and do the exact
opposite, it means you don't want to confront others or be confronted by them. It's a deflection, an
attempt to throw them off the scent so you don't have to deal with something that affects you deeply.
Again, it's usually something you're not consciously aware of, something that makes you feel vulnerable
or embarrassed.

Your behavior changes. When your behavior changes to the point where it's noticeable to others who
know or work with you, that's definitely a sign that you're really bothered by something and not aware
of how it's affecting your mood. If someone brings it to your attention and you're defensive, that's an
even bigger sign.

You're grandiose. When we make over-the-top overtures to how confident we are in our ideas, our
plans, our business, when our strategies defy objective reasoning or our goals don't pass the smell test,
that's a sign we're genuinely in over our heads and are overcompensating to appear like we've got
everything under control. I've seen and worked with quite a few CEOs in grandiose mode. If they don't
come to terms with it, it never ends well.

You make excuses. Excuses, any kind of excuses, are ways of avoiding or deflecting negative attention.
Pointing fingers and blaming others are common avoidance techniques that communicate our
resistance to being held accountable. That's why playing the blame game is such a transparent sign of
dysfunctional leadership or management. And yet, we see it all-too-often, don't we?

Assertive Communication (Handout) VD