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How To Do Assertiveness

Step 1:   Focus on trying to express your feelings using “I” statements.

Step 2:  Express specifically, what you are concerned about or what positive sentiment you would like to share.

Step 3:  State clearly, without apology, what you need or want from the other person.

Step 4 (Optional): You can then choose whether or not to put forward consequences for what will happen if the behavior does not change.

Simply stated you can use the following model:

I feel________________

When you_____________

I need for you to_____________

(Optional) Or else_______________

Example for Expressing Concern to Others:

I feel disrespected…hurt…frustrated…disappointed,

When you say you’re coming to the meeting and then don’t show up.

I need for you to do what you say you are going to do.

(Optional) Or else, I will have to go to the Executive Cabinet to discuss potential sanctions.

Example for Expressing Positive Sentiment:

I feel appreciated…respected…loved…valued,

When you ask me about my day and really listen to what I have to say.

*If you want the behavior to keep going as is, the third step is optional. If you want some modification to take place, but essentially build off of the positive behavior then a third statement might be appropriate.

Things to Consider:

  • If it seems like you might as well be pointing your finger at someone when you practice saying your thoughts or feelings, then you are likely using a “You” statement in disguise. Remember to own your feelings. You have a right to feel how you feel. Feelings don’t have to be rational. Sometimes, feelings just are.   
  • As a human being, you have a responsibility to teach others how to treat you.  It is not realistic to expect that others think and feel exactly as you do in response to similar situations. To make this assumption is to set yourself up for disappointment from your friends, family, and partners.

Once you have given people the information they need to treat you well, you can then gauge what they do with that information. If they minimize or invalidate your feelings or choose not to make changes in their behavior after you have asserted yourself, you are left with some decisions to make.

  • Is this behavior intolerable/unacceptable to me such that I might have to end the relationship if it continues?
  • Do I need to give her/him one last chance to change?
  • Can I modify anything about my relationship so I don’t have to continue experiencing hurtful behavior?

Jackie Deitch-Stackhouse, June 2006

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