Situations You Need Assertive Communication skills

Co-workers aggressively arm wrestling for dominance

Dr. Purushothaman
October 1, 2013

There are two groups of scenarios where having the skills to say "no" while being respected are much needed. I'm sure you would like to say "no" in both of these common scenarios yet you just cannot bring yourself to say it for several possible reasons.

The first group of scenarios involves someone asking for a favor that requires a type of resource from you such as money or time. This situation is non-threatening and often gets you to carry out the task because of your guilt, passiveness, or inability to take a stance. Here a few examples of these scenarios:

- A charity worker has rang you up on the phone, knocked on your door, or stopped you on the street and kindly asked you for a donation. You don't have enough money to give them a donation.

- You have been asked to put in some overtime at work but you need to be home before your partner leaves the house so you can take care of the kids.

- Your child who is struggling with an assignment that is due tomorrow asks for your assistance. You are in the middle of an important conference call and afterwards you need to write a follow up report for the meeting tomorrow morning.

This first type of scenario involves you having the incapacity to fulfill what is being asked of you. It is not that you would not like to help someone else, but it is that you simply cannot help because of poor time, financial resources, or mental incapacity. Despite our lack of emotional and physical resources we still have a tendency to try and do-it-all.

The second common scenario where it is extremely helpful to say "no" is in a more threatening situation than the first type of scenario. It involves your unwillingness and reluctance to carry out the action that is requested of you. This common scenario is about being coerced into doing something against your will. The following examples are similar as the first scenario but your personal situation this time is different:

- A charity worker is in contact with you requesting a donation yet this time you are unwilling to give them a donation because you dislike how they use donations in their work and giving a contribution feels like a waste.

- You have been asked to put in some overtime at work but you really don't want to. Maybe your partner has asked you to take the kids out or you have got so much paperwork to seek through at home and it is piling up like the Eiffel Tower and tilting like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You have other things to do but they aren't important.

- Your child who is struggling with an assignment that is due tomorrow asks for your assistance. You have spare time on your hands but you feel you need to let your child take responsibility for not having worked on the assignment at an earlier time.

In the second group of scenarios you have the time and monetary resources to donate but you say "no" because of your unwillingness to engage in the activity. You find learning to say "no" is extremely difficult because of peer pressure, intimidation, fear, or a concern for being seen as weak.

Now that you have learned the most common scenarios you need to assert yourself, you can learn the appropriate verbal and nonverbal communication skills to safely express yourself in those situations.


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