Assertiveness Handout

Basic Human Rights

Assertiveness means all people have basic human rights including:

  • I have the right to say "No" without feeling guilty.
  • I have the right not to understand.
  • I have the right to make mistakes.
  • I have a right to express my own opinions and feelings including anger.
  • I have the right to be listened to and taken seriously
  • I have the right to have my needs met.
  • I have the right to contribute.
  • I have the right to dignity.
  • I have the right to make my own decisions.
  • I have the right to consideration from others.
  • I have the right to be treated as a capable adult and not patronized

Basic Human Responsibilities

  • I am responsible for treating others fairly, honestly and with respect for their dignity.
  • I am responsible for my own actions and their consequences.
  • I am responsible for upholding the rights of others whenever I can.
  • I am responsible for my own decisions.
  • I accept responsibility for my own life. What happens to me is generally as a result of my own decisions

Assertive statements

Simple assertion

A simple statement that gives information, or stands up for the speakers rights.
I can’t hear you.

  • Your car is blocking mine.

Considerate Assertion

A statement that includes acknowledgement and concern for the other, and assertion of my own wants.

  • I can see you are busy. I need your help.
  • I know you have no microphone. I want to hear what you are saying.

Response-invited assertion

A statement of what I want and a request for your response.

  • I’d like to leave now. Would that be ok for you?
  • I think we need more time to decide this. What is your opinion?

Negative feeling assertion - (I message)

  • I feel frustrated when you say you’ll be home for dinner and then are late because I’ve worked hard to make a nice meal. I prefer you come home on time when the say you will.

Inconsistency assertion - A statement that expresses an inconsistency and asks for clarification

  • When we talked last week, you said you would send those papers. I haven’t received them, and I’d like to know what happened.


  • Your relative promises to put some money in your account for canteen. It has been some time, and it hasn’t happened. You talk to them on the phone and say:
  • Your brother says he will come visit you on Friday. Visiting hours come and go, and he doesn’t show up. You call him and say:
  • Your cellmate has an annoying habit of leaving his stuff all over the cell. You talk to him and say:
  • You arrange to phone your girl-friend at a particular time. You call and she doesn't anwer the phone. You begin to worry about where she is, and what she is doing. You finally reach her and you say:
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