EDCI 6209 Becoming a More Assertive Staff Member in Interactions with Colleagues


Welcome to "Becoming a More Assertive Staff Member in Interactions with Colleagues".

This course consists of three modules:

  • What is assertiveness?
  • Skills for becoming more assertive
  • The applications of assertiveness

As you work through the course, you will:

  • examine your definition of assertiveness, seeing how it differs from passive and aggressive behavior
  • reflect on how a lack of assertiveness may be inhibiting you at work
  • learn techniques for developing your assertiveness
  • learn to recognize when to employ skills of assertiveness

At any time you may email us with questions or problems you may be having with the material or site.



There is no preparation for this course.


This is an independent study program which means your individual starting date and due date are based on your date of registration. Your instructor will advise you of this due date.

This is an interactive online course. Although you will be able to complete some of it just by sitting in front of your screen working through the online material, we will regularly ask you to reflect on what you have learned, and put ideas into practice.

  • Activities - exercises or reflections for you to carry out in front of your computer screen. Unlike a Task, there is no specific end product, and you'll always be able to complete them on your own.
  • Tasks - similar to Activities, but requiring you to put your learning into practice in a specific situation in school.
  • Forms - use to collect the information learned.
  • Resources -

    a) RESOURCE FORMS: Has PDF forms to help you answer questions in the Student Books

    b) RESOURCE FURTHER READING: Includes clarifications about the module.

    c) REFERENCE LINKS: Has links to websites referred to in the module.

    d) DEFINITIONS: Has definitions of terms used in the module.

    e) BIBLIOGRAPHY: The bibliography is located at the bottom of this page that includes books you may check out at your local library.

  • Student Book- for you to record your reflections and send to your instructor.

At any time you may email your instructor with questions or problems you may be having with the material or the web site.

How do I get the Student Book to my instructor?

You will need to email it to your instructor. Download and save the document as described below and then you can enter your own text into the Student Book word document. Your instructor will expect a version of your Student Book as you complete each module. These can be saved by you in your files as well as being sent to your course instructor via email as an email attachment.

How do I save and name the Student Book?

You cannot type your answers on this web site. You must download your Student Book template which is a word document, by clicking on the download link below.

For your Student Book, please use a text document or a Microsoft Word document and type your text there. Title the document like this:

  • DATE


like this


Save the Student Book on your computer and complete the assignments on the document and then email it to your teacher.



Click here to download all student books




MODULE 1: Module 1: What is assertiveness?

MODULE 1A- Intended learning outcomes for Module 1

MODULE 1B- What is assertiveness?

MODULE 1C- Examples of assertive behavior

MODULE 1D- Activity 1: Understanding assertiveness

MODULE 1E- Misconceptions about assertiveness

MODULE 1F- Activity 2: Misconceptions about assertiveness

MODULE 1G- The differences between passive, aggressive and assertive behavior

MODULE 1H- Passive behavior

MODULE 1I Examples of passive behavior

MODULE 1J Activity 3: Passive behavior

MODULE 1K Aggressive behavior

MODULE 1LExamples of aggressive behavior

MODULE 1M Activity 4: Aggressive behavior

MODULE 1N Assertiveness, passiveness and aggression: a summary

MODULE 1O Task 1: Identifying aggressive, passive and assertive behavior

MODULE 1P Blocks to assertiveness

MODULE 1Q Activity 5: Blocks to assertiveness

MODULE 1R Assertiveness at work

MODULE 1S What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 1

MODULE1T Congratulations

Module 2: Skills for becoming more assertive

MODULE 2A Intended learning outcomes for Module 2

MODULE 2B Assertive communication

MODULE 2C Task 2: Assertive communication

MODULE 2D The broken record

MODULE 2E Activity 6: The broken record

MODULE 2F Self-disclosure

MODULE 2G Task 3: A disclosure diary

MODULE 2H Fogging

MODULE 2I Saying "No"

MODULE 2J Activity 7: Saying "No"

MODULE 2K Making requests

MODULE 2L Body language

MODULE 2M Activity 8: Body language

MODULE 2N What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 2

MODULE2O Congratulations

Module 3: The applications of assertiveness

MODULE3A Intended learning outcomes for Module 3

MODULE3B Assertiveness and rights

MODULE3C Activity 9: Knowing your personal rights

MODULE3D Dealing with conflict

MODULE3E Activity 10: Dealing with conflict (1)

MODULE3F Activity 11: Dealing with conflict (2)

MODULE3G Giving and receiving praise

MODULE3H Giving constructive criticism (1)

MODULE3I Activity 12: Giving constructive criticism (2)

MODULE3J Receiving criticism

MODULE3K Activity 13: How assertive have you become?

MODULE3L What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 3

MODULE3M Congratulations


MODULE 1- What is assertiveness
MODULE 1A- Intended learning outcomes for MODULE 1

By the end of this module you should:

  • understand what is meant by the term "assertiveness"
  • recognize the differences between assertive, passive and aggressive behavior.
  • understand how assertiveness can improve your professional life


MODULE 1B- What is assertiveness?

Assertiveness was first described as a personality trait in 1949, by the American psychologist Andrew Salter. Later definitions described it as "expressing personal rights and feelings". Early research concluded that assertiveness isn't something that you either have or don't have. Rather, it's something that everyone has to a greater or lesser extent, even though some situations can cause some people to feel unassertive.

A key characteristic of assertiveness is that it's a form of self-expression that doesn't violate the rights of others. It is a relatively relaxed, almost spontaneous way of expressing personal needs, likes and dislikes, without fear of recrimination.

In short, assertiveness is about honest and appropriate communication that deals effectively with others.


MODULE 1C- Examples of assertive behavior

"Setting limits allows you to value your time and energy more highly."

(Anne Dickson, A Book of your Own, January 24)

Assertive people can often:

  • initiate and end conversations when appropriate - they can also change the direction of a conversation if it is compromising their rights, feelings or opinions, while respecting the other person
  • face up to and discuss issues and problems that are adversely affecting them
  • question authority when appropriate
  • openly express emotions and opinions
  • say "no" when too much is being asked of them
  • use ordinary conversational tone in communication with others
  • use respectful language to make a point
  • use eye contact when making a point
  • match facial expression with the words spoken to avoid mixed messages
  • use body language to indicate openness and friendliness
  • engage with and participate in group situations


MODULE 1D- Activity 1: Understanding assertiveness

Click on Resource 1: Thoughts on assertiveness, and read the extracts.

From what you have read so far on assertiveness and from your existing knowledge of the subject, reflect on what you understand by the term "assertiveness".

Do you have any preconceptions that affect the way in which you view assertiveness? For example, do you instinctively view it as a negative or positive quality? Why?

Record your reflections in your Student book (1) in as much detail as possible.


MODULE 1E- Misconceptions about assertiveness

Some researchers have concluded that those who appear to lack assertiveness often believe that they should not express their feelings or opinions. They do not feel equal to others and have low self-esteem and self-confidence.

Perhaps these feelings arise out of childhood experiences and lessons, or perhaps adult life is the culprit. Whatever the cause, the following beliefs can be present in the behavior of the non-assertive:

  • personal needs should not come before the needs of others
  • people in positions of authority should be respected regardless
  • it's wrong - unacceptable - to make mistakes
  • inconsistency is wrong - everyone should always be consistent
  • asserting yourself simply upsets the status quo - don't do it
  • never reveal a lack of knowledge by, for example, asking questions or requesting help
  • if there's a difference of opinion, you, and not the other person should be flexible
  • no-one wants to listen to your concerns - best keep them to yourself


MODULE 1F- Activity 2: Misconceptions about assertiveness

Have you ever found yourself thinking in the non-assertive way described on the previous page?
Do these thoughts come into play in certain situations? Describe what happens. What situations are most likely to leave you feeling unassertive?

Record your thoughts in as much detail as possible in your Student book (2)


MODULE 1G- The differences between passive, aggressive and assertive behavior

There are clear distinctions between assertive behavior as described so far and passive or aggressive behavior. Most significantly, both passive and aggressive behavior can be destructive of morale and personal relationships - assertive behavior is not usually destructive in this way.

Of course, it's important to remember the problem of subjectivity and perception - what one person may consider to be assertive behavior, another might consider aggressive.


MODULE 1H- Passive behavior

People are usually quite happy to consider a clearly expressed request - it is the accumulated backlog of resentment that gets their backs up.'
(Anne Dickson, A Book of your Own, January 4)

Someone behaving in a passive way does not believe they have the right to do otherwise. The needs and opinions of others take precedence over personal needs and opinions, even over life-changing decisions.

More importantly, in a work situation, the passive person feels that the judgments of others carry greater importance than their own. This means that they can frequently be put in the position of carrying out instructions or duties that they don't agree with, and perhaps know won't work as well as they might, but have no voice to change the situation.

Passive behavior often denies you of emotional honesty . In its extreme, passive behavior is and can lead to self- denying anxiety and depression, and dissatisfaction with life generally.


MODULE 1I- Examples of passive behavior

"You can still behave agreeably without having to pretend to agree."
(Anne Dickson, A Book of your Own, January 5)

Passive people can often:

  • be too afraid to speak up, especially in the company of aggressive types
  • speak too quietly if they do decide to offer their opinion
  • avoid making eye contact
  • avoid using direct language
  • appear to be expressionless
  • appear resentful
  • use body language to indicate self-protection, such as slouching
  • recoil from group situations


MODULE 1J- Activity 3: Passive behavior

Think of a situation in which you have witnessed someone act in a passive way. What impact did this have on your interactions with this person?
What was the result of their passiveness?

Read Resource 2, which shows more characteristics of passive behavior in a work environment.

Now think about a time when you have behaved passively. What drove you to take that approach? Did you suffer either directly or indirectly as a result of your passiveness?

Note your reflections in your Student book (3) in as much detail as possible.


MODULE 1K- Aggressive behavior

Aggression invariably claims a victim. It's often described as "self-enhancing", usually at the expense of another. The aggressive person will seek to humiliate another, often through emotional manipulation, or even physical force to such an extent that their views and opinions, rights and feelings are prevented from even surfacing.


MODULE 1L- Examples of aggressive behavior

Aggressive people often:

  • talk over or shout down others
  • use tone and volume of voice to intimidate
  • use piercing, almost staring, eye contact, again to intimidate
  • use facial expression to give a message
  • use language to belittle
  • invade personal space and use confrontational body language such as crossing
  • arms or gesturing
  • seek to dominate group situations


MODULE 1M- Activity 4: Aggressive behavior

Read Resource 3, which describes some of the distinctions between assertiveness and aggression.
Have you ever behaved in a way that could have been interpreted as aggressive? What happened?

Have you ever witnessed, or been a victim of someone's aggressive behavior at work?

What emotions did you feel when confronted with this aggression?

Did this aggression achieve any ends for the aggressor?

Can you see how an assertive response might have served this person better? Explain how.

Record your responses in as much detail as possible in your Student book (4).


MODULE 1N- Assertiveness, passiveness and aggression: a summary

In short:

  • those who are aggressive say: "I'm OK, you're not"
  • those who are passive say: "You're OK, I'm not"
  • those who are assertive say: "I'm OK, you're OK"


MODULE 1O- Task 1: Identifying aggressive, passive and assertive behavior

A good way of becoming alert to the way in which people respond to work situations is to observe interactions between them.
Over the course of a few days or a week, pay special attention to the ways in which colleagues, students and parents talk to each other and to you. You can print out Resource 4: Observing personal interactions to help keep a record of your observations.

Are you particularly sensitive to any one type of behavior? For example, can you perceive aggression more easily than you can perceive assertiveness?

Is it possible to say that there's a predominant mode of behavior in your working environment? Does aggression prevail or passiveness? Do you observe a healthy degree of assertiveness amongst colleagues?

What conclusions do you draw from your observations of others? What is the best way that you respond to others?

Record your thoughts over the period of your observations in your Student book (5) in as much detail as possible.


MODULE 1P- Blocks to assertiveness

We can sometimes prevent ourselves from expressing our feelings and opinions assertively through self-imposed limitations. We may feel that we don't deserve to offer our ideas or even to have them in the first place. We may also feel that no-one would want to listen to us anyway, and choose silence over self-expression, despite the fact that this choice might leave us feeling frustrated.

The following list includes some common beliefs that block assertiveness:

  • that it's not OK to put yourself first
  • that others' views must be accommodated before your own
  • that asserting yourself will lead to others disliking you, or you offending others or appearing to be selfish
  • that you must be sensitive to others and not vice versa
  • that "ought to" and "should" take precedence over "want to"
  • that your position on any issue needs to be justified
  • that you don't deserve recognition for your achievements
  • that you are not necessarily the best judge of your feelings
  • that it's not OK to ask for support and help
  • that your mistakes will not be tolerated
  • that it's not OK to change your mind
  • that you can never be too empathetic

Blocks to assertiveness may arise in certain work situations or may pervade all dimensions of your life.


MODULE 1Q- Activity 5: Blocks to assertiveness

Having read through the possible blocks to assertiveness that some people can have, are there any blocks that you experience and would add to the list presented here?
In what situations are your "blocks" most likely to be manifested?

Record your thoughts in your Student book (6) in as much detail as possible.


MODULE 1R- Assertiveness at work

Developing and using assertiveness skills can positively transform your working life. Sure there'll still be days, and people, that rile and rankle. Assertiveness cannot, after all, remove all unfairness from your life - but it can help you to deal with what your job presents you with.

So it's no magic wand, but some of the benefits you may experience include:

  • improved communication skills
  • more effective workload management
  • improved levels of self-confidence and self-esteem
  • enhanced relationships with others
  • heightened ability to make decisions


MODULE 1S- What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module

Look again at the intended learning outcomes for Module 1.
By the end of this module you should:

  • understand what is meant by the term "assertiveness"
  • recognize the differences between assertiveness, and passive and aggressive behavior
  • understand how assertiveness can improve your professional life
  • In your Student book (7) make a note of the extent to which you have achieved the learning intentions for Module 1 and e-mail your comments to your instructor.

MODULE 1T- Congratulations



Module 2: Skills for becoming more assertive

MODULE 2A- Intended learning outcomes for Module 2

By the end of this module you should:

  • understand the skills for becoming more assertive
  • have considered ways of developing self-confidence
  • understand specific techniques to help maintain assertiveness in work situations


MODULE 2B- Assertive communication

"If you wait until you feel assertive before you tackle a particular situation, you'll probably never do it."

(Anne Dickson, A Book of your Own , February 3)

Communicating assertively means using honest, direct language. In most events requiring you to assert yourself, it will not be a person that's the problem but a situation. Keeping this in the forefront of your mind when communicating with others will help you to prevent discussions becoming personal and possibly offensive.

In her book, Develop your Assertiveness , Sue Bishop suggests thinking about the following points when communicating assertively. The examples have been adapted.

Be direct: state what you feel or think, rather than relying on your body language and actions to "tell your story".

Tackle the problem not the person: don't insinuate character defects, rather, focus on the problem or situation.

Deal with specifics, not generalizations: assertive communication does not involve saying things like, "'it's always me that gets given additional work". An assertive response to being given extra tasks might be, "yes, I can do this, but it will mean that x project will be put back".

Don't over-apologize: once is enough. Be selective with your apologies.

Don't give excessive explanations: brief explanations can soften what might be perceived as a blunt message, but there is rarely a need to go into great detail.

Take ownership of your message: use phrases such as "I believe" and "I think" rather than "Do you think?" - "I" statements are more effective in assertive communication.


MODULE 2C- Task 2: Assertive communication

Over the course of at least one day, pay particular attention to the language you use when communicating with others. Deliberately use 'I' statements, which show that you 'own' your message. Don't over-apologize or offer excessive explanations.

Does communicating in this way 'feel' right and natural? Does it feel awkward in any way?

Can you identify the situations in which you would like to act more assertively when talking to pupils, colleagues, managers, subordinates and so on?

Record your thoughts in as much detail as possible in your Student book (8).


MODULE 2D- The broken record

The "broken record" technique basically involves repeating your message, request, or response several times to ensure that you are not pushed off course or persuaded otherwise.
If you've taught children for any length of time, or have had anything to do with them in your home life, you'll know that they are adept at the "broken record"! There's a good deal that you could learn from them if you want to improve your skills of assertiveness.

Read Scenario 1 and Scenario 2 in Resource 5 to get a school-based example.

The teacher concerned is not leaving any room for negotiation and his message has been repeated several times. The head of department can be in no doubt that she will have to get someone else to do the task.


MODULE 2E- Activity 6: The broken record

Can you think of a time when you would have benefited from having adopted the "broken record" technique? Maybe you ended up agreeing to do something you really intended to say 'no' to.
How would the outcome of this situation have been different if you'd been able to stick to your desire?

Replay the conversation in your mind but rather than being defeated, assert yourself by using the 'broken record' technique.

Record your revised conversation in your Student book (9).



MODULE 2F- Self-disclosure

Through the process of communicating assertively with others, you will find yourself disclosing information about yourself that might previously have been hidden. This is because disclosure is a central part of frank communication.
Tim Borchers from Moorhead State University defines self-disclosure as:

"...not simply providing information to another person. Instead, scholars define self-disclosure as sharing information with others that they would not normally know or discover. Self-disclosure involves risk and vulnerability on the part of the person sharing the information."

There are several purposes to self-disclosure:

  • it can encourage others to reciprocate allowing you to understand more about them and vice versa
  • it can develop deepening trust between people
  • it is a way of giving feedback by revealing how you are thinking and feeling about a situation right now
  • it avoids misunderstanding - if you are offering your views, no-one has to guess
  • how you think about something - don't assume that anyone can, or should be able to, read your mind
  • it suggests self-acceptance, which is essential if you are to allow yourself to become more assertive

However, inappropriate or excessive self-disclosure can be damaging, especially if the outcome is you feeling vulnerable and unsupported.


MODULE 2G- Task 3: A disclosure diary

It can be useful to keep a "disclosure diary" over a few days or weeks - a record of who you self-disclosed to, why and what the outcome was.
Are some people automatically more helpful than others? Have there been any situations that have been eased by your willingness to self-disclose? Can you identify any emerging patterns, e.g., are others more or less willing to respond positively to your assertiveness? Do some people switch off or clam up? Do others self-disclose themselves in response? Is self-disclosure something you could feel comfortable doing on a more regular basis?

Print out a few copies of Resource 6: Disclosure diary on which to keep a record of your disclosure. When you have kept your diary for a few days or weeks you may want to record your findings in your Student book (10).

You can continue with the course in the meantime.


MODULE 2H- Fogging

Fogging involves agreeing in part with criticism you are faced with. This defuses a situation, disarming the person "attacking" you and helping to facilitate reasonable discussion.
Using phrases such as "you might be right there" or "that's certainly something for me to think about" in response to repeated criticism does not mean that you are actually agreeing with what is being said - you are still retaining your integrity. But by adopting the fogging technique you are putting the brakes on further criticism.


MODULE 2I- Saying "No"

Saying "yes" when we want to say "no" is something that most people do at some time or other. Our reasons for this could be to do with childhood conditioning, or some misplaced belief that we don't have a choice in the matter. Sometimes, we may say "yes" simply because we have forgotten our reasons for wanting to say "no" - the habit of saying "yes" can be so strong.
When you say "no" to a request, it is necessary to explain your reasons. You don't need to enter into complicated explanations and don't feel the need to over-apologize. If you need time to consider a request, ask for it. Suggest a way of meeting your needs and the needs of the person making the request of you. While this is an ideal outcome, this is not essential - sometimes you won't be able to meet requests and a compromise won't be possible, but that's OK.


MODULE 2J- Activity 7: Saying "No"

Click here to read the online article, "Just say no", taken from the Stressbusting website. It explores the art of saying no when we want to.
Read the article and make a note of any particularly useful points in your Student book (11).


MODULE 2K-Making requests

Being assertive is not just about dealing with the demands that others make of you, it also involves making requests of others when their input and assistance would help you.
Whatever you are asking, and whoever you are making the request of, use these ideas to help ensure a positive response:

  • keep your language simple - don't hide the request in excessively long explanations
  • use "I" statements such as "I would like" and "I need"
  • repeat the request calmly if you don't think it has been "heard" first time
  • be aware of your body language - no defensive moves such as folding your arms across your body as this gives the impression that you're not interested in negotiation

Imagine the case of the teacher who teaches every member of a year group and has over 150 reports to write in a very short space of time. They might request additional non-contact time during the report season and offer to do additional covers when that year group are on a school visit and their timetable is significantly reduced. It would be a win/win situation that can help to ensure that all the school's responsibilities are met without placing undue pressure on any one individual.

On a more general level, most people enjoy being asked to help and appreciate being given the opportunity to lend a hand. A reasonably worded request can be hard to refuse!


MODULE 2L- Body language

Body language can betray our true feelings and speak louder than our actual words. We may not be aware of it, but we are all pretty expert at reading the body language of others without always moderating our own actions.
The Newly Qualified Teacher's Handbook, written for UK teachers, explores the use that body language can have for teachers when communicating with others and when listening:

"Eye contact is essential. Maintain it without letting it deteriorate into a staring contest. A calm steady gaze that follows the speaker's hands when a point is being made will be read as confident..."

"Other positive signals are to lean forward slightly and to smile or nod in agreement. Aim to keep your hands lower than your elbows and limit your movements..." (p47)

"Negative signals to be avoided are folding your arms or holding something in front of your body, clasping your hands behind your head, putting your hands in your pockets, fidgeting with fingers or things, adjusting hair or clothing and slouching."


MODULE 2M- Activity 8: Body language

Resource 7 explores some of the characteristics that assertive people display in their interactions with others.
Read the Resource and make a note in your Student book (12) of any significant points.

Aim to adopt assertive body language when communicating with others, especially when discussing an issue that you would previously have found difficult or draining of your self-confidence.


MODULE 2N- What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 2

When you have worked through the Activities and Tasks in this module, please look again at the intended learning outcomes for Module 2.
By the end of this module you should:

  • have developed skills for becoming more assertive
  • have considered ways of developing self-confidence
  • understand specific techniques to help maintain assertiveness in work situations

In your Student book (13) make a note of the extent to which you have achieved the learning intentions for Module 2 and e-mail your comments to your instructor.


MODULE 2O- Congratulations



Module 3: The applications of assertiveness


Intended learning outcomes for MODULE 3

By the end of this module you should:

  • understand the link between assertiveness and rights
  • deal with conflict confidently
  • give and receive constructive criticism
  • be able say "no" when necessary

MODULE 3B-Assertiveness and rights

On his website, psychologist Fred L. Holtz suggests that knowing your rights, whether enshrined in law or assumed to be reasonable in a civilized society, is an important step towards being more assertive.
Holtz lists certain rights that everyone could benefit from remembering and asserting in their lives. These have been adapted in Resource 8: Knowing your personal rights.


MODULE 3c- Activity 9: Knowing your personal rights

Having read Resource 8, are there any personal rights listed in the resource that you do not agree with?
What rights would you add to this list? Think about this in the context of your work and your home life.

Are there any rights that you'd have difficulty invoking in your school life, because in practice circumstances make it difficult?

Record your responses in as much detail as possible in your Student book (14).


MODULE 3d- Dealing with conflict

Regardless of what your position is in the field of education, there will be times when you are presented with a conflict situation. In its most simplistic terms, dealing with conflict means having to state your position and work towards negotiating a compromise solution that is ultimately pleasing to all involved. Win/win outcomes may not be terribly common, but they certainly are possible.
A common method for dealing with conflict situations (and this can work when communicating with children as well as with adults) is to follow these steps:

  • state your position from your perspective
  • give your reasons for perceiving it as conflict - how do you feel about the situation?
  • state your motivation for wanting to resolve the conflict (for example, is your
  • morale being adversely affected?)
  • give your ideas for working towards a win/win solution

Click on Resource 9: An example of conflict, to read a brief case study.

Another of our courses, Coping with conflict, will give you more detailed information on this issue.


MODULE 3e - Activity 10: Dealing with conflict (1)

Another tool for helping to encourage assertiveness is visualizing the situation and the out come you desire. This involves mentally rehearsing a situation and "acting out" an interaction with someone.
Visualization can be particularly effective when you know that you will have to cope with conflict. For example, when the head has asked to see you to discuss their disapproval of your request to take pupils on a school visit, or when you must talk to a disruptive member of your tutor group about their behavior in a colleague's class, it can help greatly to play through in your mind, in advance, the outcome that you desire. Literally "see" the head in your mind's eye come round to your way of thinking, and "see" the disruptive pupil listen to you.

The next time you face a conflict situation use visualization in your preparation for the conversation. Say what you want to say and see yourself making "perfect" responses to any arguments that are put up by the other person. Visualize the way you are standing or sitting. Do you look relaxed? What is your facial expression? How are you breathing? What is your tone of voice?

Did using visualization make it any easier to face what needed to be said?

Can you see a use for visualization in other areas of your life?

Record your thoughts in your Student book (15) in as much detail as possible.


MODULE 3f - Activity 10: Dealing with conflict (2)

Resource 10: "Your Mind's Eye" contains two extracts from Rachel Charles' book of the same title. Read the extracts.
One defines visualization in more detail than discussed already and the other explores techniques for practicing visualization if you feel that it's something you can't do.

Make a note in your Student book (16) of any points that seem most relevant to you. Aim to record these in as much detail as possible.


MODULE 3g-Giving and receiving praise

Praise is equally, if not more important, than many other needs for communication. It's probably not a generalization to say that human interactions don't contain enough genuine praise and consequently we can be pretty inept at giving and receiving it.
These ideas will help:

  • be honest - offer and accept compliments with grace and never make light of the skill or deed with phrases such as "it was nothing" or "anyone could have done that"'
  • maintain eye contact and use a tone of voice and facial expression that match your message
  • allow others the chance to speak, to accept the praise or to finish offering praise without you interjecting


MODULE 3h-Giving constructive criticism (1)

Offering constructive criticism can be a potential nightmare for the unassertive. The temptation is to stop short of saying what needs to be said for fear of upsetting or offending the receiver. Now read Resource 11: Giving constructive criticism for some advice.


MODULE 3i- Activity 12: Giving constructive criticism (2)

When you have had a conversation in which you have offered constructive criticism, take a moment or two to reflect on the way you expressed yourself.

  • Could you have expressed yourself more clearly?
  • Were you faced with any diversion tactics from the receiver?
  • Are you likely to have to repeat the criticism in the near future?
  • Would you have done anything differently, given the opportunity?

Record your thoughts about these situations in your Student book (17).


MODULE 3j- Receiving criticism

When someone criticizes you they are offering their opinion on you. It is perfectly reasonable to use this opinion as a starting point for discussion. You do not have to accept it as fact.
The skill when facing criticism is to be open to what is being suggested while retaining the assertiveness to defend yourself against anything that is unfair.

Genuinely unjustified criticism should always be countered. If you let it stand, unfair judgments will have been made about some aspect of yourself or your work performance.

Use phrases that acknowledge the view of the critic but assert your opinion that this view is not accurate. For example:

  • "I accept that this is your view, and your understanding of the situation, but I think that I should explain the situation from my perspective."
  • "I appreciate what you're saying, but there is another point of view."

If, however, you can see that the criticism might be justified, the most assertive response would be to thank the critic for their astute observation and discuss how the problem might be rectified. It may be appropriate for you to request help with your workload or ask for additional training.

Remember that it is not enough for a critic to criticize without offering the means to make improvements


MODULE 3K Activity 13: How assertive have you become?

It's a good idea to review the following statements on a regular basis, if only to remind yourself of the need to be assertive. How assertive have you become as you have worked through this course? How many of these statements can you answer positively? More than ten and you're doing pretty well!

  • I can say "no" when I need to
  • I can negotiate win/win outcomes when I need to
  • I can repeat my message if it is not heard or if I am interrupted
  • I am honest in my communications with others
  • I am able to disagree with others without creating conflict
  • I value my opinions and express them with confidence
  • I value the opinions and ideas of others
  • I am able to accept and discuss criticism and praise
  • I am able to offer constructive criticism and praise
  • I am aware of my rights
  • I am able to ask questions and to ask for help when I need to
  • I address issues that adversely affect me before the situation degenerates
  • I value my needs
  • I am a good model of assertiveness to my colleagues and students

Write your responses to these statements in your Student book (18) being sure to offer an example by way of evidence for your response

MODULE 3L What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 3

When you have worked through the Activities in this module, please look again at the intended learning outcomes for Module 3.

By the end of this module you should:

  • understand the link between assertiveness and rights
  • deal with conflict confidently
  • give and receive constructive criticism
  • be able to say "no" when necessary

In your Student book (19) make a note of the extent to which you have achieved the learning intentions for Module 3 and e-mail your comments to your instructor.

MODULE 3M Congratulations





RESOURCE 1 Thoughts on assertiveness From: Developing Assertiveness by Anni Townend, p4)

Assertiveness, then, is about self-confidence, which means having a positive attitude towards yourself and others. It means being honest with yourself and others; and it is about respecting yourself and others. When you are self-confident and your behavior is assertive you are open to others and their views even though they may be different from your own. You are able to express yourself clearly and to communicate with others effectively.

(From: Thriving on Stress by Jan Sutton, p129)

Learning to behave more assertively leads to more fruitful communication and increased self-confidence. Assertive people:

  • take responsibility for their thoughts, feelings and behavior. They do not blame or judge others
  • stand up for their rights, and respect the rights of others
  • act without undue fear or anxiety
  • ask for what they want and need openly and honestly, and accept that they may not get exactly what they want. They do not fight to win their corner – unlike the aggressive person
  • are willing to compromise or negotiate to settle conflict situations. They do not take flight from difficult situations, or allow themselves to be walked over – unlike the passive or submissive person
  • don't feel the need to bully or manipulate others (unlike the aggressive person), and don't feel the need to please others in the hope they will be approved of (unlike the passive person)
  • can give and accept praise easily
  • can give and accept criticism – they are aware of their particular sensitive buttons and do not over-react to criticism
  • have high levels of self-confidence and self-esteem
  • like themselves for who they are, and accept other people as they are


RESOURCE 2: Passive behavior characteristics

  • Exhibits shyness
  • Displays anxiety and nervousness
  • Has feelings of worthlessness
  • Believes others' wants and needs are more important than his/her own
  • Finds it difficult to make decisions for self
  • Often cannot say no or feels guilty about saying no
  • Assumes others will know what's best for him/her
  • Keeps negative feelings inside
  • Frequently sends mixed messages

RESOURCE 3: Assertive or aggressive?


RESOURCE 4: Observing personal interactions



RESOURCE 5: The broken record

Scenario 1
Principal Paul – a quick word – we've got some visitors coming in to look round the computer suite on Tuesday. Do you mind showing them around? You know your way round the whole thing. Only take a couple of hours. Four till six, OK?

Teacher Sorry Sarah – I won't be able to make it on Tuesday. I have commitments that are very difficult for me to move. Tuesdays are just not convenient. I don't want to let you down but you'll have to ask somebody else. I just can't make it.

Scenario 2

Principal Ashley, just the man. Got a bit of a favor to ask. I need someone to cover the Year 7 basketball after school on Thursday. Wayne's away and I don't want the kids to miss it. There's a game coming up on Monday. Can you dive in?

Teacher To be honest, I just don't know enough about basketball training, especially for novices in Year 7. It wouldn't be right for them to get bad advice – I'm not even sure of all the rules. I do my bit with the football, but I'd rather not get involved with the basketball. Sorry.




RESOURCE 7: Assertive body language

(from Develop your Assertiveness, Sue Bishop, p 49)
"The assertive person has an upright, calm, open posture with hands hanging loosely at the sides or in the lap. There will be little crossing of arms and legs, unless in an obviously relaxed manner.

Facial muscles too, will be relaxed, showing sincerity, confidence and responsiveness. The assertive person greets the other with a genuine smile – again, the analogy with the animal kingdom: all primates 'smile' in greeting. Primates also raise and lower their 'eyebrows' almost imperceptibly as a sign of friendly greeting. Try saying 'Hello' to someone keeping your brows absolutely still. You can only do this if you dislike the person you are greeting. These body language messages are usually only registered on a subconscious level, but are very meaningful in interpersonal relationships.

Movement will be steady, regulated and relaxed. An assertive person will tend to lean towards the other person, but will keep the head erect in a responsive rather than threatening way. They will be comfortable with closer proximity than would a non-assertive person without invading the other's space.

Gestures will be appropriate to the conversation with no excessive or intrusive mannerisms. There is usually much showing of palms – indicating that there is nothing to hide, perhaps?

Eye contact will be direct and regular, showing attention and interest.

The tone of voice will be appropriate to the situation; evenly pitched and steady but easily heard.

Try watching a television program with the sound turned off. See whether you can understand what's happening, or assess the relationship between interacting people just by watching expression, movement and gesture. You will be surprised how much can be deduced. Actions really do speak louder than words!"


RESOURCE 8: Knowing your personal rights

(Adapted from: "Ten things to do to be more assertive" from www.therapy-now.com by Fred L. Holtz)

  • You have the right to ask for what you want
  • You have the right to say no to requests or demands you know you can't meet
  • You have the right to request help
  • You have the right to express your feelings and opinions
  • You have the right to change your mind
  • You have the right to determine your own priorities
  • You have the right to make and learn by mistakes
  • You have the right to expect honesty from others
  • You have the right to make decisions based on instincts and feelings
  • You have the right to rest and relaxation time
  • You have the right to work in a non-abusive environment


RESOURCE 9: An example of conflict

Imagine the case of a head of department, in conflict with the head of school over how to set pupils for a new term. A possible course of action for the principal would be to:

  • explain why streaming would benefit his pupils in the context of his subject and his teaching
  • state that he understands that he and the head are taking opposing views on the issue, but that he feels strongly that pupils, teachers and results
  • will be positively affected by his ideas for streaming
  • explain that working in the 'old' way has not been hugely beneficial for his teachers or his pupils and that changes need to be made in order to
  • keep his team motivated
  • suggest a trial period during which his ideas may be tested

By way of back-up the principal may want to have written down his arguments that he can leave with the head. It is invariably harder to verbalize your feelings in a face-to-face conversation so a written version can help.


"YOUR MIND'S EYE" click here


RESOURCE 11: Giving constructive criticism

There are a few key rules to stick to when in the position of having to offer constructive criticism. These can be useful to adopt when talking to both adults and to children:

  • remember that you are criticizing behavior, actions or outcomes, not individuals – what you say should be non-threatening
  • avoid public humiliation – make sure the message goes to the person it's intended for and to no-one else who is not directly involved
  • emphasize facts and make it clear when you are offering an opinion
  • be specific, not general, and back up what you say with evidence – never
  • be tempted to exaggerate
  • maintain eye contact as much as possible
  • script what needs to be said if you think you will easily be side-tracked, and use diplomatic language – "You're wrong" is deliberately
  • provocative, however true it might be
  • respect the rights of the receiver to express themselves with assertion –
  • allow them the chance to put their views across
  • repeat your message if it is not being heard – ask for feedback so you
  • know what has been understood
  • be aware of how your body language can back-up your message – think
  • of tone and pitch of voice and facial expression too
  • don't linger over the cause for the criticism – seek solutions



Below is the bibliography for this course:

Author: Bishop, S
Title: Develop your assertiveness (2000)
Publisher: Kogan Page
ISBN: 0749432578

Author: Charles, R
Title: Your mind's eye (2000)
Publisher: Piatkus
ISBN: 0749920483

Author: Dickson, A
Title: A Book of your Own (1994)
Publisher: Quartet Books
ISBN: 0704380994

Author: Holmes, E
Title: Newly Qualified Teacher's Handbook (2002)
Publisher: Kogan Page
ISBN: 0749438576


Author: Joseph, R
Title: Stress-free teaching (2000)
Publisher: Kogan Page
ISBN: 0749431148

Author: Sutton, J
Title: Thriving on stress (1998)
Publisher: How To Books
ISBN: 1857032381

Author: Townend, A
Title: Developing assertiveness (1991)
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 0415044642



Name:Allyn & Bacon/Longman publishers
Description:Online book sales for this educational publishers.
URL: http://communication.iresearchnet.com

Name: Stress Busting
Description: Good site for stress busting tips and information on anxiety, depression and nervous tension.
URL: http://www.stressbusting.co.uk 

Name: Therapy Now
Description:Website of US psychologist, Fred L Holtz.
URL: https://www.franklincovey.com