How to Be Assertive (Part 2)

Persistence: The Key to Assertiveness

One of the most important things to keep in mind when you are learning how to be assertive is persistence.

We usually give up too easily when somebody is asking us to do something we don’t want to do. We say "no" a couple of times but the persistence of our opponent always wins us over.

We need to learn how to keep on stating what we want or don’t want persistently without getting angry, irritated or loud.

If a person needs to be told 7 times that “No” means “No”, well, we’ll have to be ready to tell him/her “No” 10 times if that is what is necessary.

Non assertive people fall too easily in another person’s logic. This is why we must not give reasons or excuses for our point of view. Let's avoid the opportunity of the other person to manipulate us into a guilt trip.

If you missed the first part of this article "How to Be Assertive (Part 1)", don't forget to check it out to learn what your assertiveness rights are!

Developing Assertiveness

• "Broken Record":

When learning how to be assertive, one excellent verbal skill that Dr. Smith teaches in his book "When I Say No, I Feel Guilty", is what he calls the "Broken Record". This skill, as its name points out, consists in practicing to sound like a broken record. We stick to what we want first and block out the list of issues brought up by the other person.

Here is an example of what practicing this skill sounds like:

Sarah: Hey Gaby, I was wondering if I can borrow your car today because mine is at the shop and I have a lot of shopping to do before tonight’s party.

Gaby: But Sarah today is Saturday and I also have a bunch of stuff to do. I’d like to use my car as well.

Sarah: Yeah, I know but pleeeeease help me out… You know that tonight is my party and this is important for me.

Gaby: I understand what you are saying but today I need to use my car as well. (BROKEN RECORD)

Sarah: Gaby, I am sure you can call Laura and you guys can share a ride.

Gaby: Yes, I understand it must be complicated for you, but today I need to use my car as well. (BROKEN RECORD)

Sarah: I can’t believe you are being so irrational. I really need to borrow your car today!

Gaby: I am sorry Sarah but today I need to use my car as well. (BROKEN RECORD)

Sarah: O.K. fine! I see that there is no way I am going to use your car today. I’ll try somebody else…

• "Fogging":

Here is another skill you can practice when you are learning how to be assertive and are faced with manipulative criticism.

When somebody is criticizing you, pretend that you are a “fog bank”. A fog bank is very persistent and we can’t clearly see through it. In the same way, if you want to “fog” somebody that is criticizing you, don’t let them see though you. Just pretend that you agree with everything your critic is saying. Do not deny your critic, do not get defensive, do not even take it personally. Avoid manipulation and confrontation.

The other person will inevitably give up at some point. And sometimes what started as an anxiety triggering incident, ends up being fun! You slowly see how your opponent is losing the battle with you.

Do not use sarcasm though, because that will discredit the skill. Sarcasm is a verbal aggression and will definitely start a confrontation.

Here is an example of what practicing this skill sounds like:

Sarah: Those pants look too loose on you, they make you look fat.

Gaby: You are probably right. These pants do feel loose.

Sarah: And your blouse is the wrong color, you should wear something lighter and colorful instead. You look like an old lady.

Gaby: Yes, that is true. I do dress like an old lady sometimes.

Sarah: I’ve always said that you don’t dress well for your age, you should dress sexier. Show your legs, show more body!

Gaby: Yes I do dress very conservative.

Sarah: Oh Gaby! What am I going to do with you. You are incorrigible. O.K. so wear your old fashion clothes. Nobody is going to look at you!

Gaby: Yes Sarah, You are right. I am incorrigible.

I his book "When I say NO, I feel Guilty" Dr. Smith explains some other very important skills to master in the art of assertive communication. His book is packed with helpful examples of how to effectively communicate in various social situations. There are more than 30 different dialogues that exemplify and expand your understanding of each one of the skills he teaches:

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