Friday, 16 November 2012

Assertiveness Tip

It's a while since I posted an entry on my blog as usually these days I highlight coaching issues via my Facebook life coaching page (Details at Facebook Life Coaching Page). However, today I thought I'd post a simple tip on assertiveness:

If you express a point strongly to someone that implies a criticism of them or a wish for them to change behaviour, sometimes they may act defensively, denying the validity of what you are saying or accusing you of being pedantic or unfair or something else. What should you do then?

One temptation is to keep insisting on your point. Often this just results in heightened denial or counter criticism of you from theother person.

Another temptation is to back down and apologise even though you know what you are saying is correct.

An approach I would suggest is not to do either of these things but instead to stay calm, having made your point. Either don't say anything further in the heat of the moment or if circumstances require you to say something, then just calmly repeat that this is your view, acknowledging that they disagree then moving on to other things. Then wait a day or two and see if the other person comes back to you or changes their behaviour. 

The reason for staying calm and waiting rather than reacting quickly to a defensive denial, is that people who react defensively by instinct may on reflection realise that there is possibly something in what you are saying. If given a bit of breathing space they may then acknowledge it and/or start to adjust their behaviour. Allowing them that bit of breathing space after making your point initially, can make it easier for them to react constructively rather than get entrenched in a denial or tit for tat argument.
Additional Coaching Resources available at: Coaching, CBT & Self-Help Ideas


  1. Dear David
    Thank you. Your advice make much sense and has come just in time for an issue that requires this action.
    God bless x

  2. Hi David,
    Thanks for your advise,I have tried backing down,but i think i either wait for longer time before returning to the subject i.e weight lose, when i don't see a change in her behaviour, i get frustrated and renew my criticism,again with much more impart.If i getting what your saying,not to live it too longer,and possible remind her in a gentle and a more receptive that right?

  3. Hi - it's not the length of time that's important (that will vary according to the situation). The point is to express yourself clearly and politely rather than in a way that will likely prompt a defensive response. Then give a bit of time to see if there is a change in behaviour even if the initial response is negative before you consider whether to raise the topic again. With regard to your topic of weight loss, I don't know whether you want her to lose weight or vice versa. Ideally it is something you would discuss between you in an adult way whilstbut recognising that individuals have choice as to what they do, even if they don't always do what you like.

  4. Great advice! Thank you so much for sharing the article. It is really a great help. Staying calmly is vital and can reduce stress too. Nice post, thanks again!