Skills to leading an assertive life

March 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
How often do get what you want? When you ask for it, do you feel guilty? Selfish? Dr. Susan Campbell, author of "Getting Real: 10 Truth Skills You Need to Live an Authentic Life," help us be assertive without being controlling.

Asserting what you want and don't want
Ask with the awareness that the other person might say no. When you have the possibility of hearing "No" as a real possibility in your awareness (not an expectation, but a possibility), your way of asking comes through as more vulnerable-there's actually room for the other person to respond however they respond.

When making a request, avoid these mistakes:

  • Assuming you know the answer already
  • Assuming you can't handle hearing no
  • Be general vs. specific (Paint a picture and put you and the other in that picture.
  • Asking at a time when the other person is distracted or busy-time your request.


- When asking for what you want, use I messages, not you messages.

- Use concrete, specific language.

- Say what you want, not what you don't want. Asserting what you do want is a bigger commitment for you, and it's easier for the other to take in.

- Express your wants even if you have little chance of getting what you ask for. Asserting is like other forms of self expression - it keeps your energy moving instead of getting stuck in protective patterns. Experiencing your feelings and expressing yourself are essential. The results are less important.

- Become aware of any false beliefs about asserting yourself that you may have had acquired in childhood, check to see if you have any painful childhood memories associated with asking for you want. False beliefs create bottlenecks; your energy gets constricted or stuck. Self-expression helps free the blockage.

- Notice how you ask for things. Many people have a patterned way of asking for what they want. Are you avoiding discomfort - yours and another's - with these patterns?

- When saying what you want, practice painting a picture with your words and putting yourself and the other in that picture. Doing this helps you to be specific. Also, your wants sound more appealing to the other person, and you have the chance to use your very fertile imagination.

Buy the book on Amazon: Getting Real

About Susan Campbell:
Dr. Susan Campbell has authored nine books on relationships and conflict resolution, has delivered hundreds of seminars and workshop internationally, and has counseled thousands of individuals and couples. In demand with the press, radio and TV to help interpret the status of contemporary human work and love relations, she has appeared on CNN's NewsNight and Good Morning America and Dr. Dean Edell.

Accomplished in the business world, Susan has directed a think tank, run non-profit organizations, consulted to Fortune 500 companies, and guest lectured at the Harvard, Stanford, and UCLA business schools.

An avid adventurer and proponent of "living your life out loud," she has made millions, lost millions, lived in other cultures, and spent two years sailing her 47-foot sailboat halfway around the world.

Some of her more well-known book titles are: The Couples Journey, Beyond the Power Struggle, and Getting Real.

Her most recent research and writing has focused on dating - a scene widely regarded as fraught with tension and lacking in directness-and she proposes an exciting new model for dating and relating in her book, Truth in Dating: Find Love by Getting Real. Susan is gratified by the feedback from her publisher that in bookstores this book is "flying off the shelves..."

For more information, visit