There are many tip sheets offered by the Centre for Student Development and Counselling. You may view any of our tip sheets, or drop by our centre and pick up a paper copy.
Who is controlling your life anyway?
Explore the ways in which you learned to be non-assertive. Are the circumstances in which you learned to be non-assertive still active in your life, or have they changed?
Identify those situations in which you are able to respond assertively as well as those that you find difficult to handle. Ask yourself what factors help you to be assertive already.
Learn to recognize your personal rights in any given situation. This will increase your confidence in asserting yourself.
Become aware of the beliefs and stereotypes that inhibit you from standing up for yourself. Be willing to challenge them.
Practice positive self-talk. Give yourself covert messages of self-encouragement. Try to perceive yourself as effective, capable, and interesting. Ask friends, family, or a counsellor for feedback to help you out with this.
To present a coordinated assertive impression, be certain that your non-verbal communication is consistent with your verbal message. Don't grin or laugh when telling someone "no."
If anxiety is a problem, do conscious relaxation techniques. Take action - you will find that doing so often reduces anxiety.
Begin with assertions that are relatively non-threatening. Be willing to take reasonable risks.
Practice through role-playing and rehearsal on your own or with a friend.
Remember - you have the right to say "no."
Start your response with the word "no." If not, you may end up saying "yes," or "maybe," or "perhaps."
Speak in a firm, clear voice. Keep your answer concise.
Don't apologize, qualify or be defensive about saying "no." Avoid excuses and long explanations.
Dealing with Anger
Give yourself permission to feel and express your anger.
Try to express your anger when you feel it rather than allowing it to build up.
Avoid expressing your anger indirectly through sulking, being sarcastic, etc.
Learn the difference between "attacking" and being assertive. Ask your friends for examples of behaviours they would consider attacking versus assertive to get you started.
Take responsibility for your anger. Use "I" messages, e.g., "I'm angry with you" versus "You make me angry."
Be willing to ask for what you want clearly and directly - others can't read your mind.
Avoid asking questions when you really want to make a statement, e.g., "Have you finished reading the book I loaned you?" versus "I'd like you to return the book you borrowed."
If your request involves a problem you are experiencing, be prepared to offer possible solutions.
Where appropriate, be prepared to negotiate and to come to a mutually acceptable compromise.
Coping with criticism
Try not to take criticism personally, but ask yourself if there is any merit in criticisms of your actions or behaviour. Don't counterattack or become defensive.
Learn to distinguish between constructive criticisms related to your behaviour, and "put-downs." When you receive a "put-down," let the speaker know that this kind of feedback is not helpful, and ask them to communicate their concern in a more constructive way.
Try to get your critic to be specific. Reflect back what you understand about what your critic is saying.
Honestly distinguish what, if anything, is valid in the criticism. Ask for advice on how you might improve.
If you disagree with the criticism - say so - in a calm, matter-of-fact manner. Delay responding to any criticism you are not sure about.
At various times during the academic year the Centre offers a variety of groups and workshops which may help you develop an assertive perspective on life. Check out our website for information about our latest workshops and schedules!