Three-part assertion messages
It is important to have a good technique to respond to a workplace bully’s demands or accusations. An assertion technique that you can use is a 3-part assertion message where you state the behaviours of the bully, how it makes you feel and lastly the effects on you. For example, “When you yell at me I feel disrespected and embarrassed which really affects my concentration and focus for the rest of the day – I would appreciate if you use a quieter voice when you talk to me from now on”. This type of assertive message often has a significant effect when practiced and used consistently.
Behavior e.g When you dismiss my feedback…
Feelings e.g I feel like you do not value me as an employee, and as a result…
Effects e.g because I don’t feel a need to contribute to the overall goal of our team
- The behavior to be altered must be described very accurately and objectively.
- Otherwise, the other person may not clearly understand what behavior you find offensive.
- Communicate what the other does that violates your space or self-esteem.
- Describe the behavior in specific rather than fuzzy terms.
- Do not draw inferences about the other person’s motives, attitudes, character, and so on.
- Make your behavior description an objective statement rather than a judgment.
- Avoid absolutes like “never,” “always,” and “constantly.”
- Avoid profanity.
Disclosure of Feeling:
- Communicate how you feel about the effect the other has on you.
- Genuine disclosure of emotion underscores the importance the assertion has for you.
- Choose words that are not laden with judgment.
- A well-delivered assertion message that cites a concrete and tangible effect usually persuades the other person to change his/her behavior to meet your needs.
1. When you stare at me across the room I feel uneasy because it makes me think I am doing something wrong.
2. When you say derogatory things about my race I feel angry because the judgements are unfair and untrue.
3. When you shout at me across the office to do something I feel embarassed because it seems as though you don’t respect me enough to come and ask directly.
4. When you ask me to take out the rubbish bag so often I feel annoyed because I seem to be doing this 4 days out of every 5.