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Assertive Responses

Communicating assertively is an essential skill for maintaining healthy self-esteem and strong relationships. The Assertive Responses exercise helps clients to develop their assertive communication skills.

Being able to communicate assertively is an essential skill for developing and maintaining healthy relationships and positive self-esteem. A key skill is to be able to respond to the style of an aggressor’s message, not its content. This Assertive Responses exercise worksheet guides clients through the practice of responding assertively to aggressive statement.

A critical skill in responding assertively is to avoid being drawn into responding to an aggressor’s argument. An assertive response draws a boundary which says “I will not tolerate being spoken to in that way”. In this exercise the therapist an client (or client and friend) practice in pair. Person 1 says one of the aggressive statements (or makes one up), person 2 responds with an assertive statement. Clients should be encouraged to try saying all of the assertive statements, try speaking them in different tones of voice and with different body postures, and then to try making up their own variants.

  • Duckworth, M. P. (2009). Assertiveness skills and the management of related factors in O’Donohue, W. T., Fisher, J. E., & Hayes, S. C. (Eds.). (2004). Cognitive behavior therapy: Applying empirically supported techniques in your practice. John Wiley & Sons.

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