I want to thank my friends on Twitter for what has become such a great discussion over the past couple of days around the topic of assertiveness. Unfortunately it is difficult to fully explain over 140 characters…so I thought I would try over a post.

To be assertive is to tell someone what you need to tell them and to do this in as clear and concise a manner as you can.  Whether it is to stop treating us in a certain way or to back off a topic. Giving us the necessary space needed to cope.

As many pointed out to me on Twitter, there are often a lot of emotions involved when we are in this situation. This is why it’s important to think about how you would assert what you need to say ahead of time instead of being caught up in the moment.

When I think about how to be assertive, one approach I like comes from John Gottman’s 4 Horsemen Tool. He talks about using a  “soften start up approach”, that is to begin start with trying to meet the other person where they are at. For example you have a boss who is trying to get you to read the memo (watch Office Space the movie by Mike Judge) and they nag you until you just want them to shut up and back off. You could approach them by saying, “I realize you need me to read the memo and I will, but I need you to give me a couple of hours to get to it and I will properly give it the attention it needs.” Pretty difficult for the boss to argue with that and they typically would back off.

Imagine if you go aggressive with them and raise your voice and glare into their eyes and tell them to shut the f_ _ _ up! Your relationship with them might be a little on the tarnished side.

Feel free to leave me a comment, especially those on Twitter who have been discussing this worthy topic with me. I believe you will have more than the allotted 140 characters to discuss. I look forward to hearing from you.

If you would like to discuss this topic further in a private counselling session or a free consultation please contact Shawn McNabb, Surrey Counsellor today