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Assertiveness Skills
Presented by: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes
Executive Director, AllCEUs

Counseling continuing education credits can be earned for this presentation at

~    Define Assertiveness
~    Overcoming the Stress Barrier
~    Overcoming the Social Barrier
~    Overcoming the Belief Barrier
~    Reality Check
~    Nonverbal behavior
~    Giving your opinion
~    Giving constructive (not critical) feedback
~    Making requests without trying to control
What is Assertiveness
~    Assertiveness means stating your feelings, wants and needs
~    Clearly
~    With ownership
~    With conviction…. (but…I don’t know…)
Why is Assertiveness Important
~    When you are passive or aggressive, your feelings wants and needs are often not heard
~    This lead to feelings of:
~    Isolation
~    Resentment/Anger
~    Depression/Helplessness
The Stress Barrier: Fight, Flee or Freeze
~    Becoming assertive is stressful
~    You have to change the way you interact with others
~    Others have to change the way they interact with you
~    In the past when you were in a stressful situation did you withdraw? Become aggressive? Shut down?
~    The stress response is designed to protect you
~    Ignoring the urge to fight or flee is extremely difficult until assertiveness has proven itself.

The Social Barrier
~    People in your social circle expect you to act and react a certain way.
~    Changing your behavior confuses other people
~    Our egocentric society leads people to expect that if you change your behavior, it has to do with THEM
~    People strive for consistency.
~    If you used to be aggressive, they may interpret the change as depression, disengagement or exploitable weakness
~    If you used to be passive, they may interpret the change as rejection and push away
The Belief Barrier
~    Reality is 90% perception and 10% fact
~    Our interpretations greatly influence our reactions
~    What influences interpretations
~    Vulnerabilities (pain, exhaustion)
~    Prior learning experience
~    Transference and overgeneralization
~    The other person’s nonverbals
Threat Assessment
~    Failure to be assertive stems from:
~    Prior efforts to be assertive being punished
~    Fear of rejection
~    Need for external validation

Reality Check
~    Checking your automatic or current beliefs against reality
~    What is my perception of what is going on?
~    What evidence do I have for and against this perception?
~    What were the words?
~    What were the nonverbals?
~    How valid is that evidence?
~    Am I reacting to feelings or FACTS?
~    Am I magnifying or catastrophizing?
~    Have I stated my feelings and needs objectively and clearly?

Giving Your Opinion
~    We all have opinions.
~    Opinions are qualitative (good, bad, fair, helpful…)
~    Opinions are a combination of the current situation PLUS prior learning
~    Own your opinion
~    Good opinions are based in fact. (…because…)
~    Support your opinion with evidence
~    Did you like that movie?
~    Yes (or no), because…
~    If the opinion is negative, identify what you would change
~    Respect other’s opinions
Constructive Feedback
~    Constructive feedback is objective and measurable.
~    Lazy vs. has failed to complete his assignments for the past 3 weeks
~    Stupid vs. Has difficulty with following basic instructions for opening his register
~    Provides information that a person can choose to address and/or presents an actionable problem
~    Provide possible solutions and develop an action plan.
Making Requests (win/win)
~    State the reason for your request
~¬†¬† ¬†‚ÄúI am feeling exhausted and overwhelmed trying to manage all of these tasks.‚ÄĚ
~¬†¬† ¬†‚ÄúI recognize that as a result my work product has gone down.‚ÄĚ
~¬†¬† ¬†‚ÄúI am having difficulty prioritizing‚ÄĚ
~    State what you need in the situation
~¬†¬† ¬†‚ÄúI need help prioritizing which of these tasks is most important to you.‚ÄĚ
~¬†¬† ¬†‚ÄúOr, I need some assistance so I can produce a quality product in a timely manner.‚ÄĚ
~    Assertive communication means stating your feelings, thoughts and needs in a respectful, but owning manner
~    Social barriers are those created when you start acting differently than those in your social circle expect.
~    Belief barriers are those automatic thoughts and schemas that help interpret events based on past learning
~    When being assertive, it is best to provide your opinion or observation supported by facts.
~    When making requests, it is ideal to create a win/win by pointing our what is currently wrong, what needs to happen and how that will benefit both parties.