Assertiveness – what it is and not:

how to use to deal with difficult situations

Assertive behaviour is the foundation for good leadership, developing teamwork and for creating powerful working relationships with colleagues and clients.

What it involves:

  • Being open and honest, clear and concise
  • Empathy – listening with an open mind
  • Choosing the right method of communication
  • Being decisive and timely
  • Demonstrating respectful behaviour
  • Integrity
  • Voicing your opinions and feelings in a constructive manner
  • Considered response
  • Debate
  • Being consistent.

What it does not involve:

  • Closed ears
  • Avoidance
  • Secrecy
  • Being patronising
  • Dismissive
  • Firing off a curt email
  • Lacking respect
  • Being defensive
  • Knee-jerk and ill-considered reactions
  • Making value judgements
  • Using status.

Dealing with difficult situations:

  1.  Preparation
  2. Consider what will be a good outcome. Be realistic.
  3. Understand their point of view
  4. Anticipate their objections
  5. Choose words carefully
  6. Avoid accusatory language
  7. Choosing the appropriate method of communication

The classic structure for dealing with difficult situations:

  • Empathise – listen, understand and do not make judgements at this stage or be defensive.
  • Ask open questions – what? How? Tell me about XYZ
  • Reflect back and check your understanding
  • Agree a way forward.