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7 Assertion Strategies that can help you avoid a disagreement from turning into a FIGHT!

August 27, 2013

ImageBeing assertive is  the most effective way to communicate our feelings and opinions especially when we don’t necessarily agree with others around us. However, it is also one of the most difficult communication styles to achieve partially because when we become aroused (excited, angry or anxious) we are less likely to use conscious thought and be conscientious  in our approach…we are more likely to bark out commands or become defensive in our tone. The second reason why being assertive is often neglected is because of lack of practice.  When we practice a new skill we create new mental habits and therefore improve the likelihood we will call upon it during times of distress.

Here are 7  simple, but highly effective strategies to use when you are looking to make a request from another and  voice a different or negative opinion:

Dr. Albin 7 Assertion strategies:

  1. Ask for what you want? : “ I m feeling _____________, I would like for you to do______________”
    This strategy involves being SMART which stands for being specific, measurable, actionable, responsive and timely in your request. E.g. “Jack I am feeling hurt by your jokes I would prefer if you could refrain from using that type of humor around me, especially when we are about to be intimate.”

2. If that is not enough then try the 4 Parts approach:

a. State how you see. Use I statements not “You statements” I see it “as x y Z ”,

b. State how you feel if appropriate. In the workplace this step maybe left out.    “I feel/felt when “yxt happened…”

c. Be Smart in stating a specific request: I would like this change to be made (SMART)

d. Finally Sell it to the listener: “Here’s why it’s important to both of us”                    E.g. “Amanda when you asked me to give you a ride to the wedding I was happy to help you. I realized you saved about $40 on train ticket. I was hoping you would have helped me out by chipping in about $10 for gas. This way I can save a little money too and be happy to give you rides in the future.”

3. If this doesn’t work try to Negotiate:“what would you propose we do to solve the problem” be instrumental about the problem and  SMART in the solution. E.g. “I understand you are not working and don’t have a lot of savings, so what do you propose we do to make the situation more fair?”

4. If you cannot figure it out then activate Self Care-which means taking care of your own needs if the other person won’t comply/assist: “If the problem goes on…Ill have to “.. E.g. “If you cannot be on time unfortunately I will have to go ahead without you.”; “if you cannot chip in for gas than I will have to take someone who can help me out because I cannot afford to carry the entire load.”

5. Get information: “What upsets you about this, I’m not sure I get it? I want to understand” E.g. “I am having a hard time understanding why you unable to help me. I am having a hard time understanding why you cannot stop telling those jokes. Can you help me understand? I really want to get you because I care about you.”

6. If this other person is sending you information try Acknowledging their needs/ideas.This will help facilitate mutual respect and likely motivate the person to try get you. “I can understand how that might upset you/worry you,….” E.g. “I can understand that you feel cut off when I ask you to stop telling those jokes.”

7. If none of this works then recognizing  you both are not in a place to resolve the matter and then put a place holder on it: Temporarily Withdraw   “Let’s talk about this later when we are in a better place, have more time”. E.g. “Hey we are going in circles right now and I think we both need to get back to work/some rest lets talk about this over the weekend.”

Dr. Jayme Albin is Licensed Psychologist and Certified Kundalini Yogi Instructor. She specializes in anxiety, depression and relationship problems in social and work place settings.  Her approach focuses on Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Biofeedback and Yoga Therapy, EMDR and Coaching.  For more information about setting up an appointment please visit us on our setting up an appointment page or call us today at 212-631-1133. We have 2 NYC locations and Skype/Phone sessions are available.  For information about weight loss or maintenance programs visit our sister site

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 27, 2013 9:32 pm

    Great post! This is really helpful but can difficult to do alone. I am glad to have this list to remind myself.

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