When practising the tasks below, remember that being assertive doesn’t mean making a scene and it doesn’t mean you have to insist on your rights. After you have asserted yourself, you and the recipient should feel respected.
Print this list and complete each task at least once. Then post the list to Norway.
With some of these tasks you might not get the result you would like. Shrug and accept that. Congratulate yourself for trying.
Do some of these tasks for the rest of your life, and habitually apply the assertiveness keys. One day you will notice you have more confidence. You will have lost your fear of humanity and feel connected with it. And you will be satisfying your deep need to belong.
Say ‘no’ or ‘not interested’ to a salesperson without giving a reason.
When someone offers you a business card you don’t want, politely decline.
Make quick decisions when it’s not important. Be decisive.
‘Will I explore the left path or the right? Left!’
‘Will I have the lamb or beef? Beef!’
If someone has their bag taking up a seat on a bus or train, politely ask them to remove it so that you can sit down. (Even if other seats are available.)
Say ‘I don’t understand’ when you don’t understand. (Don’t add ‘Sorry’ when you say it.)
If you are in a shop and should be served next, but someone else begins to order, politely say ‘Excuse me, I was next.’ And begin ordering. No need to frown, though.
Without aggression, ask a queue-jumper to please go to the end of the queue. (If you are ignored, you can either persist or shrug. Whether or not they actually comply isn’t important.)
When a waiter directs you to a table, point to a different table and ask for it. (Don’t insist.)
If you ring a corporation and are given the option to not be recorded, take it.
If you are arguing with someone, tell that person how you are feeling. ‘I feel hurt, angry, fearful . . .’
Listen to a door-knocker’s spiel, and then politely decline, giving no excuse.
Decline an invitation you don’t want to accept.
End a phone conversation when you want it to end. (‘I’m going now.’) Don’t give a reason.
In a crowded bus ask the people standing to ‘Please move down to the back of the bus.’
Speak up for someone being mistreated. A little support goes a long way.
When you are in a group and can answer a question, answer it before someone else does.
When you’re in a group and would like to ask a question, ensure you ask it.
Walk up an upward going escalator saying ‘Excuse me’ to the people blocking your path.
If you make eye contact with someone you don’t know, give them a smile.
If someone in another room calls to you in the hope of speaking with you, wait for the person to come to you. Don’t go to them. (Obviously there will be exceptions.)
The person might try to converse with you by yelling. You are expected to yell back. Don’t. Say nothing. When the person comes to see why you are not responding, smile and tell them, ‘I’m in a different room. I don’t have conversations with people in other rooms. How about, if you wish to talk with me, come to where I am? And if I want to say something to you, I’ll go to the room you are in. Okay? Deal?’ It is important to smile, because this isn’t a ‘dominance’ thing. The person meant no harm – they were just being lazy or ‘time efficient’. But to have both people converse in the same room is a good way to have a conversation, and it’s a good way for you to practise being assertive.
If a person has body odour and it’s affecting you, tell them. Diplomatically. Don’t tell them at the start of a night out if they can’t do anything about it, but at the end of the night, or the next day, mention it.
When someone greets you by saying, ‘How are you?’ ignore the question and simply say ‘Hello’. Their question isn’t a real question – it’s a greeting.
When you are talking with someone, or in a group, and you disagree with a statement made, say so. Say, ‘I disagree’, or ‘I can’t support that idea.’
When you are in a lecture hall, sit in the front of the room in the most vulnerable seat.
If you are with someone and looking for a place to eat, don’t automatically let your companion decide. State where you would like to go, and compromise if necessary.
If a contractor hasn’t done the work agreed to, persist until it’s done.