Check the Box that Best Describes You

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  1. You lack direct and honest communication skills. You fail to stand up for self and avoid conflict.
  2. You humiliate or put others down by dominating to get what you want at the expense of others.
  3. Your communication is indirect, not open. You do not take responsibility for your behavior.
  4. You are direct, honest and stand up for self without violating the rights of others, knowing what you want to accomplish.

Box 1: You are passive, allowing other to choose for you, unclear about your own verbal messages to others.  You hold your feeling inside or express them indirectly, insecure, apologetic, making excuses for self, and may be holding resentment, feeling sorry for self.

Box 2: You are aggressive, chooses for self and others, getting what you want at any cost.  You are clear, yet in a demanding manner by putting others down, sometimes threatening resulting in anger, guilt and alienation.

Box 3: You are passive-aggressive, similar to aggressive, but in covert mannerism such as taking pot shots at others from behind.

Box 4: You are assertive, chooses for self with honest, direct communication.  You allow others to express their feelings and is comfortable letting others know you.

Your ability to be who you are and respond accordingly in various situations determines your degree of self-direction.

Let’s talk about how to be more assertive.

This ability to be self-directing is assertive behavior.  Communicating assertively allows you to be charge of yourself and can also positively impact those around you. 

Listed below are three situations.  Write your response.

Situation                                                                                                       Your Response

  • You are cooking a dinner and need the table set.


  • You have been asked to be in charge of making

arrangements for the annual company social affair.


  • You are presenting a report at a leadership meeting

and have been interrupted three times by the same



Here are some helpful methods for becoming more assertive:

Break into an ongoing conversation with natural pauses without interrupting.

Resist interruption by another by raising your voice slightly to singal that you would like to finish your comment.

Disagree by acknowledging the other person’s point of view, or at least your perception of their position, “I see your point as being….; however, I still think” or “It sounds like that is important to you because, and I…”

To say “no”, be as brief as possible, i.e., give a legitimate reason for your refusal, “I don’t have the time,” and avoid long, elaborate explanations, justifications, and ”lies.”

To handle criticism, respond with opinion statements rather than “you” statements, e.g., “In my opinion…, instead of “Your interpretation is wrong.”

Be specific when giving constructive negative feedback by giving examples, and cite situations and what the person said and/or did.  It may be helpful to write out what you would like to say to lower anxiety.

Here are some helpful assertive statements to use:

“I want to work this out with you.”

“I’m not comfortable with or willing to listen to evasiveness.”

“I want to make sure I understand what you are saying.”

“How would you solve or take care of this situation?”

“If you are not willing to work out this agreement with me, what is your suggestion as to how we could solve this problem?”

“You have the right to your doubts.”

“I want to explain my reasons for…”

To be assertive, it is important to know your purposes, motives and goals in a given situation, to know what you want to accomplish or have happen.  However, being assertive is not a guarantee of always getting what you want. 

Let’s practice what you have learned.  Write your assertive response to the following scenarios:

Scenario 1: Your area has been challenged to take on new responsibilities.  This means each person of your four-person team will need to handle a little more.  Two people on the team are eager to take on more; the other two people do not want more and resent being asked.

Scenario 2: Don, the team leader can let his emotions get the best of him and he has a hard time keeping them in check.  His team knows the type of day they will have the minute Don walks out to the shop floor.  Upon seeing Don in a bad mood, the team members are hesitant to approach Don with problems or any issue that comes up.  Don’s emotions can slow people down and there is a lot of guessing about what is wrong. 

In summary, being assertive is about knowing yourself and what you need, knowing your options for responding in any given situation. 

Reader, you are welcome to contact me to review your responses to the two scenarios listed above. 


Carrie Van Daele is president and CEO of Van Daele & Associates @ and  She also is the author of 50 One-Minute Tips for Trainers, published by LogicalOperations.