Five Ways of Making a Verbal Assertion


1. Basic Assertion

Expresses needs, ideas, expectations.

  • This is what I think
  • This is what I feel
  • This is what I am.


  • I would like to finish what I am saying.
  • I need some time to think about that.
  • This afternoon is not a good time for me.
  • I like you.

2. Empathetic Assertion

Recognizes the other person’s needs, feelings and situation but stands up for one’s self.


  • You may not realize that interrupting me bothers me but it does.
  • I know you are trying to be helpful, but I would rather do this my way.
  • I know it is easier for you to file this under the old system but the new one is more useful to me.

Empathetic assertions confront the other person with behavior that is having undesirable consequences without judging or threatening and also give the other person recognition for having needs and feelings that you are aware of.

3. Escalating Assertion

When the other person does not respond to a basic assertion or request, it is sometimes necessary to escalate the assertion by changing words or tone of voice so that the individual who is denying your rights will be forced to consider them. An assertion is escalated from a simple request to a demand if the request is ignored.


I have asked you to please make an effort to get to work by eight o’clock. You have been late three times this week. You will have to get to work on time. I cannot make any exceptions unless there are unusual circumstances.

4. Confrontive Assertion

The confrontive assertion calls attention to discrepancies between what the other person said they would do and what they actually did do. It involves:

  • Describing (not judging behavior):
  • What they said they would do.
  • What they did do.
  • What you want.


  • I was supposed to be consulted before this report was submitted. You sent the report to Mr. Jones without the September figures. I want it retyped with this added information. I want to see it before Mr. Jones gets the revised version.
  • I thought we agreed that we would make no changes in the budget without another meeting. I want to discuss these figures with the other department heads before I can approve that increase.

5. Feeling Assertion

A feeling assertion is sometimes necessary in order to preserve or improve a working relationship. It involves some degree of risk taking but is indicated when a working relationship or a personal one is subjected to strain because of conflict in style, values expectations or needs.

A feeling assertion:

1. Describes your reaction.

Ex: I am frustrated, concerned, angry, disappointed, etc.

2. Describes behavior.

Ex: You did not finish the work I assigned you. You gave me the responsibility for getting that job done but you did not give me the people I needed in order to complete it. You did not give me enough time to complete my research.

3. Describes consequences.

Ex: I will have to find someone who can do the job. I cannot take the responsibility unless you will support my authority.

4. State your wish, demand or requirement.

Ex: I want to know in advance if you cannot complete a project.