Chapter 6 6 Types of Assertive Messages

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1 6 Basic Types of Assertive Messages Chapter 6 6 Types of Assertive Messages 1. I Want 2. I Feel 3. Mixed Feelings 4. Empathic Assertion 5. Confrontive Assertion 6. I Language Assertion 6 Basic Types of Assertive Messages Which type of assertion you use depends on your goals: Maintaining your relationship with the other person, Achieving your objective, or Maintaining your self-respect. 1. I Want Referring to a specific behavior. Examples of I Want : I want to do. I want you to do. I d like you to do. Would you do? How about doing? I d appreciate it if you d do. 1

2 1. Effects of I Want statements Helps clarify to yourself and others what you really want. Gives the other person the information necessary to know how to fulfill your wants. Even if the other chooses not to fulfill your wants, you are relieved of the conflict of wanting, being afraid to ask, and worrying whether or not the other will do what you want. When the other person has wants that conflict with yours, you both can openly problem-solve the conflict and compromise, or learn to live with it. 1. Guidelines for Using I Want 3 ways to reduce the likelihood of others misunderstanding that an expression of preferences or wants are nonnegotiable demands: 1. Ask the other about their preferences or willingness to do what you want. i.e. Instead of going to the party, I d like to stay home with you. What do you want to do? 2. Quantify your wants on a verbal scale (slightly, moderately, greatly, extremely) or on a numerical scale of 0 to 10. i.e. I d like to eat Chinese food tonight; it s not a strong preference about a Clearly state what your I Want Statement means and what it doesn t mean. i.e. I d like you to go to the coast with me; that doesn t mean I expect you to nor that you must. I d just like it if you would. 2. I Feel Expressing a feeling in response to a behavior that someone did. Examples of I Feel : When you did, I felt. I liked it when you did. I didn t like it when you did. 2. Effects of I Feel Helps you express your feelings without attacking the other person. Clarifies for yourself and others exactly what you are feeling which may reduce misunderstandings. I.e. when you re feeling disappointed, others may assume that you re feeling angry. 2

3 2. Guidelines for Using I Feel Consistently using only one feeling word to describe most of your feelings (i.e. I m upset. ) does not accurately convey your feelings to others, and it may keep you from discovering how you actually do feel. Instead of making a general statement about how you feel, specify the degree of the feelings you experience. i.e. mildly frustrated, angry, enraged. When expressing irritation, first describe the specific behavior that you find offensive and then express your feeling. This can help reduce defensiveness in others by an I m angry with you beginning statement. 3. Mixed Feelings Naming more than one feeling and explaining where each is coming from. Examples of Mixed Feelings : I have some mixed feelings about what you said. I feel about. At the same time, I feel about. 3. Effects of Mixed Feelings When you communicate both positive and negative feelings in response to the same situation as opposed to saying nothing about mixed feelings, your ability to communicate is improved. The other person knows that their actions were neither all pleasant nor all unpleasant and is given clearer information about the parts of their behavior that are acceptable and unacceptable. 3. Guidelines for Using Mixed Feelings Sometimes it is more appropriate to express one set of feelings (i.e. positive) and allow the other person to respond to them before introducing the other feelings (i.e. negative). 3

4 4. Empathic Assertion You want to do more than simply express your wants or feelings, but want to convey something sensitive to the other person that you are concerned the other person might feel offended by or put off by your assertiveness. Examples of Empathic Assertion : Part 1: your recognition of the other person s: Situation (i.e. pressures, difficulties, lack of awareness) Feelings (i.e. sad, mad, glad, scared) Wants (i.e. get better grade, discuss a topic) Beliefs (i.e. has been unfairly treated) Recognition is not sympathy or agreement. It s an acknowledgment of the other s situation, feelings, wants, or beliefs. Part 2: a description of the situation, feelings, wants, or beliefs. i.e. I can see that you re upset with me and not interested in talking right now; I would like to talk it over when you re ready. 4. Effects of Empathic Assertion May feel more comfortable being assertive when you have first recognized the other person. Helpful in important relationships where you want to reduce the chances that the other will become defensive or feel hurt. Reduces the chances of acting aggressively as it requires putting yourself in the other s perspective before expressing yourself. Others are more likely to hear your assertive message when they know their message has been recognized first. 4. Guidelines for Using Empathic Assertion Try to keep the empathic assertion recognition part of your statement short to avoid losing sight of your own feelings and wants. The empathic recognition statement shouldn t label or evaluate the other person. I.e. I realize that you ve been goofing off all quarter Avoid the phrase, I understand how you feel. This comes across insincere. Describe what you understand. Use the words and or and yet to bridge the recognition statement and the statement of your wants. 5. Confrontive Assertion there are discrepancies between what is said and what is done. 3 Parts of the Confrontive Assertion: 1. Objectively describe what the other person said would be done. 2. Describe what the other person actually did do. 3. Express what you want. Examples of Confrontive Assertion : I was supposed to be consulted before the final proposal was typed. I see the secretary is typing it right now. Before she finishes it, I want to review the proposal and make whatever corrections I think are needed. In the future I want to review any proposals before they re sent to the secretary. 4

5 5. Effects of Confrontive Assertion When discrepancies are confronted by simply describing them, others are less likely to react defensively because they are not being personally attacked. Helpful when you ve previously asserted yourself and the other person has agreed to change their behavior, but has not carried through with the agreement. 5. Guidelines for Using Confrontive Assertion Point out the discrepancy (the behavior) rather than confront the person. When there is a discrepancy, avoid jumping to conclusions. Describe what you see in terms of specific behaviors. Use assertive statement types as principles to guide your assertive behavior--combine the types of assertive statements as needed. 6. I Language Assertion expressing difficult negative feelings. 4 Parts of the I Language Assertion: 1. Objectively describe the other person s behavior or the situation that interferes with you. 2. Describe how the other person s behavior or the situation concretely affects your life. I.e. in terms of additional time, money, or effort. 3. Describe your own feelings. 4. Describe what you want the other person to do. I.e. provide an explanation, change behavior, apologize, offer suggestions for solving the problem, give their reaction to what you ve said. Examples of I Language : You re probably not aware of this, but when you turn in reports for me to type that have been written in light pencil, it takes me twice as long to complete them. I d really appreciate it if you d write them in dark pencil. 6. Effects of I Language Specifying concrete or tangible effects that another person s behavior has upon you make it likely that your assertion will be more effective as most people do not knowingly want their behavior to have a negative effect on others. 5

6 6. I Language Assertion When you re not able to specify concrete effects, the effectiveness of your assertion depends on 3 factors: 1. You re more dependent on the degree to which the other person values your relationship or your feelings. 2. The degree to which the other person isn t engaged in a power struggle with us. 3. The degree to which the other person doesn t have a strong investment in continuing the objectionable behavior. Guidelines for Using I Language : The most important part of the statement is specifying the concrete or tangible effects. This is also the most difficult part to describe and some situations do not have any. 6

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