team technology
What is assertiveness'

How To Be More Assertive

What is

Four styles

Rights and

Positive beliefs

Being direct

disagreement constructively

Managing the other
person's behaviour
by enforcing
a process

Building rapport

Focusing on facts

Focusing on

Stopping put-down

Text Book Techniques

action planning

Textbook Techniques

How To Be More Assertive: Part 12

The following techniques are widely quoted in assertiveness textbooks. We have included them in this series of articles for completeness, but please note that, in our view, these techniques are not core to assertiveness.

Three of the techniques (negative assertion, negative enquiry and fogging) are defensive techniques that can help to deal with put-downs from other people. The fourth technique (broken record) is an aggressive technique that should only be used when:

Negative Assertion

Negative assertion involves accepting the truthful part of a criticism made against you, and stating it in positive terms (and it can be mixed with a bit of humour). Eg:

"You're stupid"
"Well, I'm not the most intelligent person who has ever walked on the planet."

"You're always making mistakes"
"I have to admit, I'm not perfect"

"You're aggressive"
"I don't let people walk all over me, that's true."

Negative Enquiry

This technique requires a lot of self-confidence. When someone is attacking or criticising you, you ask them for constructive criticism - ie: what they think you are doing wrong, and what you could do differently to be better.

"You're stupid"
"Oh, what specifically am I not understanding'"

"You're lazy"
"What is it that you think I should be doing'"


Fogging involves using words that acknowledge the other person's point of view, and accepting that it might be true under circumstances, but without necessarily accepting it is true of you. Fogging is particularly powerful if you are able to restate the other person's opinion in a way that could be true of anyone or everyone:

"You're stupid"
"That could be true. We all have a stupid side to ourselves."

"You're always making mistakes"
"To err is human."

"You're aggressive"
"We all have an aggressive side to our personalities."

Broken Record

This technique is usually only appropriate in situations where you do not have a long term relationship with the other person, and your rights are being contravened (eg: when a shop assistant refuses to accept the return of a faulty item). It can sometimes be used, however, where you are short of time.

In this technique, you simple keep asserting your rights. It is sometimes important that you understand your rights, and are able to quote reliable sources. Eg:

This item is faulty. Under the Sale of Goods Act I am entitled to a refund and I want my money back.

I've got to go to a meeting. I don't have time to talk about this now.


In view of the cautions we have given, in what situations might it be suitable for you to use "broken record"'

How To Be More Assertive:
Part 13: Personal Action Plan