Here is a set of 4 points, which serve as a useful guide to approaching all kinds of situations assertively.


Show you hear and understand the person’s needs, feelings or situation
‘I realise that you care for the children a lot’
‘I acknowledge that you’re feeling stressed’


Express your feelings or thoughts in an ‘I’ statement.
‘I just feel hurt and disappointed when you don’t call’
‘I’ve been working against a deadline, feel overwhelmed and I haven’t had time to cook dinner.’


Specify clearly the actions which you want from the other person or what you want to happen. Soften at beginning and include an appreciation statement.
‘It would be helpful if you could like to let me know if you’re going to be late for dinner. That would make a real difference!’
‘I’d appreciate it if you could whip something together from leftovers so I can get this task done?’ Thanks heaps!’
‘On Sunday morning would you mind watching the kids for 30 minutes so I can go for a walk’ That would really help me out.’


Mention the anticipated positive outcomes of change. You may also mention the negative aspects of no change. This is an optional step about your self-care.
‘That way I’ll feel calmer when you get home and more willing to talk with you nicely’
‘If that doesn’t work for you, I can always order a pizza.’

When expressing your request consider: timing, stick to facts, tone of voice, use ‘I’ messages, use good eye contact and relaxed posture, and start with the least threatening person.

You can use this guide to clarify your own thoughts about a situation, or you use it with a friend to plan and practice assertive statements. Use each point to plan a sentence or paragraph and write it down.  Don’t feel compelled to mention every point unless it is appropriate.

Assertive skills can take practice and support so see your psychologist if you need assistance.