Assertiveness Skills Part II

Have you ever noticed the way a young child keeps repeating her request for something? She just keeps asking. I've heard friends say "until they wear you down." Well, that's a rather sophisticated assertiveness technique called The Broken Record. It involves calmly stating your truth over and over to the other person. I remember watching my mother apply this technique in a small dry cleaning/retail outlet when I was a little girl. She wanted to return a pair of pants she'd purchased only the week before. The owner said "No," citing store policy. My mother planted herself at his counter and began her mission: to return the pants and get her money back. Like a mantra, she repeated: "I understand it is your store policy, but I want my money back." My mother had just read the book: When I Say No, I Feel Guilty by Manuel J. Smith, and she immediately put into practice the tenets of assertiveness, including other skills you might also find useful:

Self-Disclosure - sharing information about yourself, your thoughts and your feelings. 
                  I become upset when when you show up late for our meeting.

Negative Inquiry - prompting criticism from your speaker in order to use the information in your argument, to build your case.

Fogging or Negative Assertion - calmly acknowledging to your critic that there may be some truth in what she/he is saying:
                  That may be true...
   I know. I have been late picking you up the last three times...

Workable Compromise or Win-Win - when you feel that your self-respect is not at stake, you can work to achieve a solution that benefits all parties involved. However, if your self-worth is in question, there can be no compromise.

It didn't take long for that retailer to refund my mother her money because as she stood there calmly stating her truth, clients came and left. The retailer had a dissatisfied customer on his hands who was driving business away! Yeah, Mom! It was truly inspirational and impressionable to my young mind. Back then I didn't know that one day I'd be teaching assertiveness to classes and in workshops.


  1. Way to go mom!
    Not only do my kids use this on me... but I use it on them too. I might repeat "I just need you to brush your teeth" a dozen times... but eventially if I stay calm and assertive it gets done and usually pretty quickly.

  2. FYI,
    I thought you might be interested in another Blog Jog Day scheduled for Nov 21. It went really well last time. Information and sign-ups can be found at

  3. Yes, Jenn, staying calm is the key! We somehow forget that when our buttons are being pushed.

  4. I've tried the broken record method on my wife. It doesn't work, and I have the bruises to show for it.

  5. LOL Nick! Have you tried smiling at the same time?


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