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Diplomacy in Action

Chapter 5: Group Focus Session 4: Positively Assertive!


Group Size: 8 - 12 students

Time needed: one class period 45-60 minutes

Physical Set up: Seminar setting around a table.

Materials: Handout, Ten Tips, & Being Assertive

Goal: To learn how to increase assertive behavior.

Procedure: Presenter must be familiar with essential information in this chapter. Review with students the difference between Passive, Assertive and Aggressive behavior.

Discuss the difficulty in delivering uncomfortable messages to others. (Mustard on shirt, unzipped zipper, some "I" messages.)

Distribute the attached Handout. Divide class into workgroups of three. The three should review the handout for ten minutes being sure they understand each of the ten recommendations.

Bring class together and answer unresolved issues.

Return class work groups.  Divide each group into Observer/moderator, Requester, and Assertive Trainee. 

Observer is to make notes about the process, Requestor is to make request from the list, and Assertive Trainee is to respond. Do three exercises, then rotate positions and do three more, rotate positions and do three more, completing nine of the ten situations.

Bring class together and observe what happened?

Follow Up: What was the most difficult situation observed? Did the trainee ever act passive or aggressive? Describe.

Reflection: Write in your journal the assertive response to the unfinished situation on the handout.

10 Tips To Improve Your Assertion Skills
1. It is OK to say "no". You do not have to not have to offer excuses or to justify your behavior to most people.

2. It is OK to make mistakes. In fact it is good to make mistakes. If you are not making mistakes you may not be taking appropriate risks. There are jobs hobbies and lifestyles that expect you to take risks to develop new ideas or solutions. Making mistakes is OK. Just don't make the same mistake more than once if you can help it!

3. Ultimately you are the final and absolute judge of your own behavior. Live your life as you would in accordance with your STEPPs.

4. When you have given your answer and someone asks you the same question again, calmly repeat yourself over and over and over and over and over and over and over......again.

5. When asserting yourself keep your language clear, simple, and focused.  Don't say things like, "No thank you, I don't think I will have any of that."  That comment invites the host to say "Are you sure?"  Just say "No thank you!"

6. There is an assertion technique called Fogging.  It involves you acknowledging cri
ticism & verifying feelings.  You begin by agreeing with the person.  "Well, I  certainly think eight hours of homework is too much also.  It is important that you have time for yourself, so what I am willing to do is to assign two hours of homework every night of the week.  That way you will get all the calculus information you need to pass the final exam."  And ten hours of calculus homework!!!!!

7. Appropriate Assertion is a learned behavior.  Practice assertion skills in school, at work and at home.  Role-play the times and circumstances where others might take advantage of your less assertive nature.  Practice does not make perfect.  Pratice  makes permanent.  By practicing at home you will be able to say assertive things when appropriate.  Practice saying exactly what you want to communicate.  Use the words, the tone, the inflection, the volume.  Role playing is a powerful assertion management tool!!!!

Having many unfinished tasks hanging over your head can be distracting and lead to passivity. Seek closure on unfinished business. Decide when you can the first time. Don't drag things out. When you know the answer give it. When you have decided, ACT!

9. When giving an "I" Message, delivering bad news or just protecting your rights, give the problems to the owner. Don't complain about calculus homework to the French teacher.

10. When appropriate seek a support group of similar minded friends or acquaintances.  Joining in a support network helps to reaffirm positive self-images and your connection with a larger community.  Support groups prove that you are normal after all and may even help to alleviate stress.

Practice Being Positively Assertive!

Directions: Requestor is to make request from the list, and Assertive Trainnee is to respond, Observer is to make notes about the process. Do three requests, then switch roles and do tree more, switch roles and do three more, completing nine of the ten situations.





Assertive Trainee

Do not take no for an answer!

What is going on?

Assertive not passive or aggressive.

You should be aggressive!

Make notes about what you see.

But DO NOT give in!


Ask your friend to go to a

movie tonight. They really

don't want to go but you



You didn't do your

homework. Ask to copy



Your parents say you can't

go out unless you are with

your friend. They can't go

you need them to lie.


They have a GREAT lunch

you have is a peanut butter

sandwich and an apple.

Get them to switch.


You owe this person $10

for three weeks. You want

to borrow $5 more now.


You smoke, they don't.

Try to convince them how

cool it is.


All the guys & gals are

going out tonight. Parents

think it is a school project

but it is really a party.


On the phone with your

friend and even though

tomorrow is an important

test you want to talk now.


She (he) doesn't want to

go steady. But you are

Insisting that now is the



They want to go to the

movies but you already

bought tickets to the game.


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