Help your students take the first steps toward becoming assertive. The following steps are small, but important, things to help them succeed in adapting a new, assertive communication style:

  1. Decide to change
  2. Decide what you want
  3. Be fair
  4. Know how to say “no”
  5. Learn how to listen
  6. Take risks
  7. Be calm and relaxed
  8. Express your feelings openly
  9. Give and take praise
  10. Give and take criticism 

Let’s take a closer look at these 10 steps to teach your students:

  • Decide to change– Before you can become more assertive, you must admit you need to change. Focus on one thing at a time. For example, maybe you want to start by changing the way you communicate with a specific coworker. Start small, and expand your efforts to change over time.
  • Decide what you want– Many people fail to change because they don’t realize that they actually want to change. Ask yourself, “Am I really happy with myself and my life?” This can be a tough question to answer honestly, but it can open your eyes to see what it is you really want.
  • Be fair- It’s impossible to be assertive if you do not respect your rights and the rights of others. Being assertive demands that all parties win, at least in part. You can make sure this happens by following these simple rules:
    1. Find the problem
    2. Set common goals
    3. Tell others how you feel
    4. Choose your words carefully
    5. Choose words that are direct and honest
  • Know how to say “no”- For such a short word, “no” sure is hard for some people to say. It’s hard, not because of tricky spelling or pronunciation, but because it means you might be letting someone down. Some people would rather put themselves in a bad situation just to avoid disappointing someone else. On the other hand, you should not get into the habit of saying no just because you don’t feel like doing something. Learn to say no only when it helps you get something you want.visualize success
  • Learn how to listen– When most people think of communication, they think about talking. However, communication is a two-way street. In order to be a good, assertive communicator, you must develop your listening skills as well. Good listening requires you to not only listen to what you are interested in, but also what you aren’t interested in. For example, other people might come to you with problems that are important to them, and they want you to listen.

  • Take risks– To become more assertive you will have to take some risks. The risks you will take in becoming assertive include: Saying what you believe, Saying what you want, Stating your needs clearly, Stating what is acceptable
  • Be calm and relaxed– One easy change to make in your life is to calm down and relax. The more calm and relaxed you are, the easier it will be for you to clearly and assertively communicate with others. It’s when you are stressed out and overwhelmed that anger tends to rear its ugly head.
  • Express your feelings openly– Assertion is impossible until you learn to express your feelings to others. Since people can’t read your mind, it’s the only way others can know how you feel. In order to express your feelings, you first have to work on your self-esteem. If you don’t believe your own feelings are worth sharing, how will you ever believe that other people want to hear about your feelings?

  • Give and take praise–  One way to make it easier to ask for what you want is to give praise while stating your needs. For example, if you want a friend to help you, try saying, “You really know your stuff. I could really use your help.” When you give praise, it takes the discomfort out of asking and makes the person more willing to help you.
  • Give and take criticism– Criticism may or may not be correct. It’s up to you to listen to the criticism, decide if it is fair, and then respond in an appropriate way. Being able to give criticism is as important as being able to receive it. Whether or not your criticism is effective and results in the change that you want is largely dependent on your delivery

Thanks for tuning into our series on teaching interpersonal assertion to your students. If you want to learn more about developing or teaching soft skills, sign up for a free soft skills webinar here.