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5 Highly Effective Assertiveness Techniques For Any Situation

Updated on August 13, 2012

Introducing The 5 Assertiveness Techniques

If you want to learn how to be more assertive in your daily interactions, then it's essential that you learn practical assertiveness techniques to help you to deal with a range of tricky situations. These techniques will help you to express yourself with confidence, and empower you to stand up for yourself when you encounter aggressive or manipulative people.

In this article, I'll be sharing these 5 highly effective assertiveness techniques and how you can apply them to become more assertive both at work and in your personal life as well.

Using "I" Statements

An "I" statement is an assertiveness technique for expressing yourself without putting the other person on the defensive. It is particularly effective in situations where you have to confront someone about negative behavior or if you have to provide constructive criticism.

Here's a simple formula for an "I" statement:

I feel (feeling/emotion) when (action) and I would like (propose an alternate action instead).

By using an "I" statement to get your point across, you alert the person to how you feel about their actions instead of passing judgment about their behavior. By making this simple adjustment in the way you communicate a grievance or a criticism, you make it far more likely that the person will react positively to it and make the necessary changes.

Negative Assertion

How do you react when someone criticizes you? Most people would either react passively by hiding from it or feeling hurt by it, or aggressively by lashing out at the person giving the criticism. Using the technique of Negative Assertion though, you can accept the criticism while not allowing it to affect you negatively.

Negative Assertion means accepting the truth behind the criticism without taking it personally. For example, if someone says, "You're so disorganized, that's why you're constantly losing things", you could reply with "It's true, I do need to work on being more organized, don't I?"

When you're willing to openly admit your mistakes without giving excuses, you prevent other people from using guilt or anxiety about your mistakes to manipulate you. You also avoid a lot of pointless conflicts and instead give yourself the room to grow and improve from your mistakes. All in all, Negative Assertion is a good way to deal with constructive criticism assertively.

Negative Inquiry

While Negative Assertion is a good assertiveness technique to employ when someone directs constructive criticism towards you, there are times when you have to deal with destructive or manipulative criticism as well. Negative Inquiry is one technique that you can use to handle criticism that's designed to simply push your buttons or make you feel bad about yourself.

Using Negative Inquiry involves asking a question to clarify criticism that is aimed towards you. For example:

Criticism: You are terrible at your job!

Reply: I don't understand. How exactly am I not doing my job up to your expectations?

By using this assertiveness technique, you will be able to extract more specific and useful information from the criticism than you otherwise would if you immediately opposed or rejected it. At the same time, you can protect yourself from criticism that's just designed to tear you down or to make you feel guilty so that you will do what the criticizer wants you to do.


There are times when Negative Inquiry might result in a person launching into a prolonged critical attack on you, and when that happens you will find the Fogging technique particularly useful. Fogging involves agreeing with a small part of what the antagonist is saying to you, while staying calm and not allowing yourself to be provoked into guilt, anger or hurt by what he or she is saying.

There are three ways that you can agree with an aggressor using the Fogging technique. You can:

1. Agree In Part

Aggressor: You've been unemployed for months and you're just wasting your life!

Fogging Response: You're right, I haven't had a job for months.

2. Agree In Probability

Aggressor: If you don't start getting more exercise, you're going to die from heart disease!

Fogging Response: You're probably right, I may die from heart disease if I don't exercise more.

3. Agree In Principle

Aggressor: If you keep making these bad investments, eventually you're going to go broke!

Fogging Response: That's true, if I make a lot of bad investments then my money is certain to run out eventually.

By using the Fogging technique, you get to respond to the actual statement in a neutral way without being provoked by the manipulative or destructive message that is contained within the criticism.

Broken Record

If you encounter someone who simply won't back down from a request, and even tries to manipulate you with guilt and logic to get you to do what he or she wants, you will find the Broken Record technique useful.

The Broken Record technique involves simply sticking to your initial statement without getting sucked into a pointless argument or debate.

Here's an example of the Broken Record technique in action:

John: Hey Jenny, could you lend me a hundred dollars? I'm broke and I need some money to get me through to payday.

Jenny: No, I don't have the money.

John: Come on Jenny, I really need this. Do you want me to starve this week?

Jenny: I can't lend you the money, I don't have it.

John: Please Jenny, I thought you were my friend. You know I'd do the same for you.

Jenny: There's no way I can lend you a hundred dollars, I don't have that amount of money.

By sticking to your point, you prevent yourself from getting manipulated or being forced into an argument. Eventually, the person will simply give up and accept your refusal.

The Broken record technique is also very effective in situations where you do not want to take "no" for an answer. Again, you simply stick to your point and persist until you get what you want.

Recommended Assertiveness Exercises

It's really important to practice these assertiveness techniques with a partner so that you can gain confidence and obtain valuable feedback as well.

To that end, you can certainly benefit from the following assertiveness training exercises:

1. Creative Visualization

2. Role Playing

3. Small Trial Runs

You can find out more about these assertiveness training exercises as well as how to be more assertive in a variety of situations at my site,

Assertiveness Techniques Questions

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      6 years ago

      Nice lens!


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