Before You Speak . . .
1. Know how you feel – which means, take the time to sit uninterrupted with yourself and ask yourself how you feel – then, spend at least five minutes journaling about it.
2. Be informed and objective: write down the answers to the following questions as you consider the situation that challenges you to be assertive: who, what, where, when, why and how is this going on?
3. Then ask yourself the following question: What choice could I make in responding that would feel like a courageous choice to me? – and record the response that comes up inside you.
4. If you’re ready to blow up or in any way “lose it” you need to resolve your feelings before you attempt to speak – otherwise, it will be impossible to fairly assert yourself.
5. Expect nothing when you formulate assertiveness goals – the true goal in being assertive is just that – nothing more.
Guidelines to Speaking Up
1. Speak clearly in a normal tone of voice, maintaining good eye contact throughout the conversation.
2. Focus on your present concerns and goals for yourself and nothing else – in other words, don’t complain about the past or predict the future, and don’t insult the other person.
3. Be polite – remember, you are dealing with a fellow human being, like you – and we are all equally powerful no matter what anyone thinks or says.
4. Continue to use the word I as in I think, I feel, I want, I need, versus You.
5. Stay with the facts and your focus, which includes the facts during your conversation – refuse to allow yourself to be interrupted, derailed, treated rudely or abusively, and label these attempts if they occur.
1. “Win-lose” interpersonal power struggle games have nothing to do with assertiveness and everything to do with passive-aggressive behavior that only compounds the problem and makes it unsolvable – the stage is set for only more “rounds”.
2. When you have politely, directly, and completely stated your concerns, your goals, and your assessment of the problem you have completed being assertive.
3. A fully assertive conversation does well set the stage for real problem-solving and resolution, which can smoothly extend your discussion or be scheduled for a mutually agreed-upon time in the future as follow-up to occur after a reasonable interlude, with a mutually agreed-upon agenda for the upcoming discussion.
4. It is okay to experience many feelings during the course of being assertive, including fear, sadness and anger – by the end of the discussion, you may also feel both more peaceful and energized.
5. Being assertive changes you for the better inside, which makes it an empowerment and development exercise – sometimes it takes a while to become fully aware of this and other times you may feel strikingly transformed – that is the gift to congratulate yourself for – you earned it!