Assertiveness is a calm and neutral approach to communication that focuses on sending a clear message. The purpose of assertiveness is not to bully others, or ensure we always get our way, but rather to make sure our point of view is clearly communicated. Read on to find out how you too can become more assertive…

Saying No

Saying ‘No’ can be difficult for many people. However, if you believe it is an appropriate response, it should be delivered as directly as possible.

  1. Listen to ensure you have fully understood the situation.
  2. Say “No” – not “maybe” or “I’ll think about it”!
  3. Give your reason concisely  – remain calm and stick to the facts.

Consider your response in terms of tone, voice and body language and always be wary of the consequences of saying “Yes”.  One approach might be to say “No I can’t do that, but if I were able to swap this other work with you I could.”


This is useful in a conflict situation where you are being challenged and where you must persuade the challenger to see your point of view.  When someone is behaving aggressively, they tend to expect either ‘Fight’ or ‘Flight’ behaviour.  Fogging is an unexpected response and is used to slow the challenger down and defuse potential conflict, whilst allowing you to stand your ground.

To fog, you need to be listening very carefully to what the other person is saying. You need to find a part of what they are saying that you can agree with, without losing your integrity.  Then you say “Yes” followed by the part of their point you agree with, followed by a rigorous but calm counter-claim.

If someone says – “Well, that was a rubbish course, you didn’t even know the name of the man whose model of communication you showed.”
You could say – “Yes, I should have known that, but we did cover some really good ideas and if you try and make use of them it will really help you become more assertive.”

Stuck Record

Sometimes, when people are concerned with their own needs, they pay little attention to what you have to say. This technique is useful to make sure that you are listened to and your message is received.

  • The stuck record technique involves repeating your message until it can no longer be ignored or dismissed.
  • Repeating the exact words can appear aggressive so…
  • It’s important to vary the words & phrases used each time you restate your message.
  • Re-iterate exactly what you want to happen to avoid confusion.
  • And don’t forget; keep listening for a ‘breakthrough’ or concession.


These are just a few of the many techniques that can be used to help get your message across. Of course, practice is essential for success and without it you won’t truly become more assertive. So, next time you find yourself in a ‘difficult conversation’ try one of the above methods and see what happens. Start small and work up; learn from the experience and refine your approach ready for next time. You won’t succeed all the time but you should start to succeed more often!

If you want to find out even more about this fascinating subject consider attending our  Assertiveness training course

Thanks for reading.

John Bainbridge