Three Assertiveness Techniques That Work

Jerry Kennard Health Pro
  • Assertion is about trying to restore some balance into your life and in so doing, reducing the amount of worry and anxiety you experience. Here are three proven assertiveness techniques for you to try:

    1.The Broken Record. This technique is designed to protect you from direct manipulation or the indifference of others. For example:


    Boss: I’m looking for a volunteer to run career day.

    You: I’m sorry, I’m up to my neck in work and I just don’t have the time

    Boss: I might be able to pay you for the extra work.

    You: I’d like to help but really I’m too busy to take on extra work.

    Boss: Look I hate to ask, but there’s nobody else available.

    You: I’m not available either, sorry. As I say, I’m up to my neck in work.


    The broken record technique requires you to stand your ground politely but firmly and to repeat a central message until the person gets it.


    2. Fogging Fogging is a way of accepting criticism without it getting to you or escalating into conflict. In a sense you become the fog. We may not like fog but no matter how much we huff-and-puff, or hit out at it, it quickly becomes clear the fog won’t hit back and it’s pointless trying to make it. Fogging takes away the power of provocation, often by agreeing with person who is goading you. For example:


    Jack: Tell me. How is it I work just as hard as you but you always seem to get the recognition?

    Jane: You do work hard, that’s true.

    Jack: But how come you’re the golden girl and I’m basically ignored?

    Jane: You’re right, it’s not good to feel unappreciated.


    These may appear submissive statements but your technique of fogging denies the other person the outcome they are seeking, whether this is confrontation, intimidation, or disempowerment. It requires self-control and whilst you may feel anxious during the exchange such situations can’t be sustained or escalate without your contribution.


    3. Describe, Express, Specify, Consequences (DESC) Now this is something that improves with time and practice but you could try the technique at home or in situations you feel safer or more comfortable in. Perhaps start with something familiar and then extend it to other circumstances?


    House Mates: Your music is way too loud (Describe) I’m trying to do these accounts for a client and I’m in danger of making mistakes (Express your feelings). You don’t have to turn it off, just down, or wear some earphones (Specify your requirements). When I’m done we can go out for a drink (Consequences).


    You need to give a little thought to the Consequences aspect. People tend to respond more favourably to positive inducements or praise than they do to threats or ultimatums.


    At Work: This is the third time I’ve asked you to correct this work (Describe). It’s putting me behind schedule and I’m not at all satisfied (Express your feelings). Make the necessary corrections now please and get them to me within the hour (Specify your requirements). If this happens again we’ll have to discuss your performance more formally (Consequences).


    I also suggest these few do’s and don’ts



    • base your life trying to win the approval of others
    • put everyone else before yourself
    • worry about saying no
    • make excuses or apologise for the person you are
    • apologise when it isn’t your fault


    • remember you always have a choice
    • say yes and no with conviction
    • give yourself credit where it’s due and learn to recognize situations where you’ve been successful
    • understand that in taking on board the aforementioned you can’t please all the people all the time – but then you never could. 

    This post was adapted from my latest book Overcoming Worry and Anxiety (Sheldon Press) available in paperback and eBook formats.

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Published On: October 17, 2014