Here's some responses you can use to assert yourself in challenging scenarios

These will help you instead of using passive phrases like "Yes", "Fine", "Er, not really, I er..." or "Okay then" or prevent and an aggressive tone such as "No way!", "I'm not telling you!", "Forget it", "Find some other mug!"

NOTE: These are examples, you will need to add in your own genuine elements. And use these as a base. Only use with integrity and for the right reasons.

NB: For some, these may appear easy or a little basic.

HOWEVER, depending on the person or scenario, depends on how assertive you feel.

You may be able to say something to a friend that you would not say to a manager.

Imagine the scenario where the CEO or a really aggressive person asks for your honest opinion? Do you respond assertively, honestly and confidently? Perhaps you do, or perhaps you say what you think will pacify.

In my mind that is not being assertive.

NB: Use a cool, calm and assertive tone, with confident body language.


Example response

You are asked to stay back late,

But can't as you have other plans

First ask what it is that needs doing and why tonight (if not clear). Then:

SAY: "Normally I would, but tonight I have other plans. Can I help in any other way? "

or, if you have a little flexibility, suggest a compromise,

SAY: "I have plans tonight, but I could stay for 10/20/30 minutes longer if that helps?"

"Can you get this report in on Friday?"

When you are snowed under with other work.

First ask "I'm curious, is there a reason for needing it Friday" - you can then react to their response to this.


SAY: "As you know I am working on X, which means I would need to drop that. Is that ok?" - you can then react to this

Be prepared for them saying "Can you not do both?"

"What do you think about Project X / Person Y"

when you are unsure or don't like them/it.

In this scenario, ask the other person for their views first, then you can respond/react to what they say.

If they back you into a corner, asking for your view first, then you could buy a little breathing space by saying:

1SAY: "It's early days",
then ask again for their views
"How do you find it/them?"
you can then react to their response.

NB: I am not advocating lying here.1

We cover more of these tips and more on our Interpersonal Excellence Workshop

About the author

phil laviolettephil laviolette

Hi!, I'm Phil LaViolette, Founder and Owner of evalu8d. I created resourcily to share hints, tips and resources I've collected over 20 years of training and coaching, across lots of industries and at all levels. I hope that, even in a small way, you gain from the tools I share!