6 Step Assertion Process


“Speaking assertively is not about raising your voice.  It is about raising your listening skills.” unknown

6 Step Assertion Process

Imagine you know it’s time to draw a boundary with someone close to you, you’ve thought long and hard about what is important to you, you know what you want to say, So what do you do now?  Robert Bolton (1979), gives us a  process to follow when delivering our assertion.

1) Preparation
2) Delivering the Message
3) Silence
4) Active Listening
5) Recycle steps 2-4 (as necessary)
6) Focus on a Solution

Preparation – In the preparation stage you spend time, before you enter into a conversation with the other person, reflecting on what is important for you to convey, developing your framing (from chapter 3) and assertion message, and preparing yourself for this process and active listening.

Deliver the Message – Share your frame and your assertion message

Silence – Allow the other person time to process what you have just said.  Sometimes after we assert ourselves, we want to justify ourselves, or jump in when there is silence because it can be awkward and uncomfortable.  Take a deep breath while they consider what you have just said, they may have not considered this topic before this very moment.

Active Listening – Once the person responds to your assertion, your job is to reflect back what their response is.  This response could be defensive, it could be off track from your original topic, or they could shut down. Actively listening to the other person will likely be the last thing you want to do, so make sure to prepare for this part of the process as much as you can in the preparation step.

Recycle Steps 2-4 (as necessary) – You will likely have to reassert yourself, provide more silence, and actively listen a few times, before you can move into the next step in the process.  This part of the process allow you and the other person to really understand each other and get on the same page.

Focus on A Solution – Often times in conflict we jump to this step without taking the time to go through steps 1-5. Only focus on a solution after you have understood the other person, they have understood you, and you are both ready and capable of focusing on a solution.

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