This is a 2nd part of our blospost about assertive communication techniques, here you can read the first article!
3. NEGATIVE FEELINGS ASSERTION
Negative feelings assertion is used when you are experiencing very negative feelings towards another person – anger, resentment, hurt and so on. In a controlled and calm way you draw attention to the undesirable affect another person’s behaviour is having on you. This allows you to deal with the feelings without making an uncontrolled outburst, and alerts the other person to the effects of their actions on you.
There are four steps to negative feeling assertion:
1. Describe the other person’s behavior objectively. Be careful to do this without interpreting or judging. When you leave it this late to produce your report…
2. Describe the impact of the person’s behaviour on you. Be specific and clear. Don’t overgeneralise. …it involves my working over the weekend…
3. Describe your feelings …I feel annoyed about this,…
4. State how you would prefer the behaviour to be in the future. … so in the future I’d like to receive it by Friday lunch time.
Examples of negative feeling assertion:
• “When you come home late, without telling me before, I worry that something is wrong and I feel angry. I would really appreciate it if you could ring and let me know beforehand.”
• “When you continually interrupt me when I’m working on the balance sheets, it means I have to start all over again. I’m feeling irritated by this, so I would prefer you to wait until I have finished.”
4. CONSEQUENCE ASSERTION
This is the strongest form of assertion and is seen as a last resort behaviour. It is usually used in a situation where someone has not been considering the rights of others and you want to get their behaviour to change without becoming aggressive yourself. In a work situation it may be used when standard procedures or guidelines are not being followed. When you use consequence assertion you inform the other person of the consequences for them of not changing their behaviour. It can easily be seen as threatening and therefore aggressive. Only use this form of assertion when you have sanctions to apply, and only when you are prepared to apply them.
As this type of assertion can easily be seen as aggressive you need to be very careful of the non-verbal signals you use. Keep your voice calm and at an even pitch and volume, keep good eye contact, and try and keep your body and face relaxed.
Examples of Consequence assertion:
• “If you continue to withhold the information, I am left with no option, but to bring in the production director. I’d prefer not to.”
• “I’m not prepared, John, to let any of my staff cooperate with yours on the project, unless you give them access to the same facilities that your people have.”
5. BROKEN RECORD
Children are experts at the broken record technique. This skill involves preparing what you are going to say and repeating it exactly as often as necessary, in a calm relaxed manner. This skill can apply in most situations. It is a good skill to use when you are dealing with clever articulate people as all you have to do is stick to your prepared lines. It helps keep you relaxed because you know what you are going to say and you can maintain a steady comment, avoiding irrelevant logic or argumentative bait. It is a particularly good technique for saying no.
Example of the Broken Record technique:
Kate: Can I borrow $20 from you?
Dave: I can’t lend you any money. I’ve run out.
Kate: I’ll pay you back as soon as I can. I need it desperately. You are my friend, aren’t you?
Dave: I can’t lend you any money.
Kate: I would do the same for you. You won’t miss $20.
Dave: I am your friend but I can’t lend you any money. I’ve run out.
This broken record technique can be combined with the other assertiveness techniques you have just learned. Always begin with the mildest stance, getting more and more assertive as you see fit. Avoid jumping in first with the heaviest consequences stance; it will be a threat and aggressive behaviour, NOT assertive behaviour.
EXAMPLE FOR ALL THE ASSERTIVE TECHINIQUES USED IN A SITUATION
The following example of the broken record technique uses all levels of assertiveness beginning with basic assertion then moving through to empathic assertion and then consequence assertion.
• “I bought this clock here yesterday. The button for moving the hands isn’t working properly so I’d like to exchange it please”
At this point the assistant will either agree or:
• “The clock should have been checked before it left the shop”
• “I realise that would have made things easier, however, I would still like to replace it.”
At this point the assistant will either agree or:
• “I don’t have the authority to exchange things”
Response :”I would still like it to be replaced.”
After a few exchanges the level could be raised to:
• “I would like the item changed. If you are not prepared to do that I will take the matter up with your Head Office. I would prefer to resolve it now.”
The one situation in which this technique can be a disadvantage is when you are making a request from someone who does not want to do what you are asking. When they continue to resist, your requests lose power every time you have to repeat them. If the requests are repeated too often, it can backfire on the authority of your words. In these cases it is necessary to have some consequences on hand.