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Hints for communicating more assertively

When making requests, do it in a straightforward, open and honest manner.

Don’t apologise profusely. For instance; ‘I’m very sorry to bother you, I hope you don’t mind…’ or ‘I hope you won’t think I’m a nuisance, but do you think you could possibly……’

Be direct. e.g. speaking to a colleague: ‘Anne, I’d really like the report on the Harrison project by the end of next week. Can that be done?’ If you make hints rather than requests people will become suspicious, impatient, or both and think ‘Why don’t they just get to the point?’

Keep it short. Long-winded explanations get confusing and increase the chance that you will start justifying yourself.

Don’t justify yourself when making the request. e.g. ‘I wouldn’t normally ask and I don’t like to be a nuisance, but the car’s broken down and the neighbour’s in bed with flu.’

Give a reason for your request, if you think it will help, but be sure it’s genuine and keep it brief. ‘Pete, I shall be without a car tomorrow; would you be able to give me a lift?’ or ‘Alan, I need the figures for the meeting next week; will you be able to let me have yours by Friday?’

Don’t ‘sell’ your request with flattery or tempting benefits. e.g. ‘Linda, you’re just the person, would you….’

Don’t play on people’s friendship or good nature. e.g. ‘Be a pal and get this to me by dinner time’ or ‘It would be really kind of you if you could….’

Respect the other person’s right to say no. With a personal request, take ‘No’ for an answer. Don’t become persistent with non-assertive pleading or aggressive bullying. With a work request, give more information and clarification, find out why the person is unable to meet your request. If the answer is still ‘No’, put your energy into creative problem solving.


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