Last Wednesday and Thursday, Allen and I took our first, joint workshop. The topic was Assertiveness and Workplace Confidence. Assertiveness Techniques is a small part of one of eight sections which made up the workshop.

It’s all very well knowing that you have the right to express your thoughts or opinions and that by dressing right, standing tall and using your voice and tone to help your case, you are presenting an assertive image.

But, what do you SAY?

Here are five techniques for getting your point across assertively. Do we teach all we read or know about? No, we only teach what we’ve tried and proved ourselves. The following techniques work!

Repeat to Fade

You may have read about this technique before. It’s more usually known as The Broken Record Technique. The basic premise is that people will get the message after three attempts. he key is to repeat your words over and over, without substantially altering too much, and without elaborating.Sweetheart, you must come to the work dinner.

“Sweetheart, you must come to the work dinner.”

No, I am not (1) going.

Aww… Please…

No, I will not (2) be there.

We’ll all miss you…

Like I said, I am not (3) going.

In What Situation is This Useful?

Those who are extremely persistent will be less likely to hound you to do things you’d rather not, if you use this technique consistently. Avoid the temptation to give reasons why. If you do, you may find the person tries to solve the problem making the reason defunct forcing you to capitulate.

Failsafe Instruction Blueprint

Consider the scenario: you’ve just completed an important meeting. You’ve been up a few late nights, feel drained of energy and you’ve yet to chair the director’s conference on Friday.

Address the person by name. (Charlotte…)

Tell them what you want. (I want the report completely typed up, proofread and printed…)

Tell them when you want it. (… by 11am on Wednesday morning.)

Tell them why you want it. (It is for the directors’ conference on Friday morning.)

Say thank-you. (Thank-you)

In What Situation is This Useful?

Those who lack motivation or the skills to work unsupervised will respond well to this technique. Keep the communication precise and clear, so there is less room for miscommunication.

Negative Assertion

Turn the power of the opponent around to your advantage, as in martial arts!

This technique involves assenting to the part of what the person says that you agree with. You are still being assertive by not agreeing to the rest by refusing to mention it. But, you are being very clear in what you are agreeing to, by being specific.

“You’re rubbish at writing letters!”

This letter was rubbish.

In What Situation is This Useful?

Those who make broad sweeping statements like this are acting like a critical, judgmental parent would with a child. It pays dividends to act like the adult by assenting to what you can and ignoring the rest. It is not helpful to get into a discussion about the words “always” or “never”.


Create a fog around what someone says to you, by recognising their need or priority, but stating that yours is more important.

I realise this is important, but it is not as important as…

I know this is a priority for you, but my priority is…

In What Situation is This Useful?

When you want to recognise the other person’s position but force them to recognise that yours is more important for you. It is a way to avoid being manipulated.

Negative Enquiry

This is a way of focusing the negative statement back on the person. It forces them to give examples of what they mean. If they are unable to do so… then it’s probably just a nasty, personal attack.

“You’re useless.”

In what way, specifically?

In What Situation is This Useful?

It is a way to get constructive criticism, or real feedback, that you can do something with.

Do You Want to Learn How Not to be Quite So Darn Amiable!

These techniques work. In the UK, we’re taught to be amiable, often at the cost of our own comfort and mental well-being. We learn to become passive, in the light of the aggressive and unreasonable words and behaviour of others. Or, we turn aggressive ourselves, in a vain attempt to defend ourselves against attack. Neither is effective.

These techniques provide alternative methods for dealing with people we live and work with. The goal is to become assertive by being able to state our case, without being overcome with emotion or ineffective through vagueness. The assertive person has something to say, says it calmly and succinctly and then stops.

Let us know how you get on with these techniques. Check out 5 Power Words and or Assertiveness page.