For some people it is difficult to be assertive because we fear that our request will upset others. Assertiveness should be distinguished from aggressive behavior, in which we may demand what we want in a disrespectful way. Assertiveness is also different from passive-aggressive behavior, in which we say yes to a request but find ways to avoid honoring that request, such as forgetting or expressing our displeasure indirectly, like talking behind someone's back.
Tips on Assertiveness
- Acknowledge the importance of the request. For example, if someone were soliciting a donation from you, indicate that you recognize the importance of their organization.
- Politely decline. In doing so, it is better not to make up excuses or use passive verbs such as "I can't."
- Avoid apologizing. This is often the hard part, particularly for women, because in turning down the request, we risk offending the other person or making them think negatively of us. But keep in mind that they are asking a favor from you.
- Be a broken record. Sometimes the first no doesn't take, and you have to repeat yourself several times before the other person acknowledges that you have declined their request. Expect to have to say no 3 times before you will be heard.