Assertiveness Techniques

By Pete Liska

Clear, direct language is respectful and a coaching competency.  During coach training for my Certified Professional Coach certification, we learned say what you want and be specific with a question or statement.

Today I had some work done at the house.  The contractor was here hanging a barn-style door. When he was almost complete I noticed a few things.  I started the conversation by asking, “Does the door stop?” because it seemed to want to roll shut on it’s own.  He just said yes, and then proceeded to walk out of the house putting his tools up.  Asking a closed question failed to get an actual response from him.  When he returned into the house, I practiced the “Do say what you want” technique from our coaching certification class.   I said to the contractor, “It looks like the door rolls shut on it’s own.  Will you adjust the stop?”  He said sure.  He took his drill and adjusted the door stop so it held the door when open and slowed it for opening or shutting.  He finished the adjustment, then opened and closed the door, then asked me to do the same.  It was fixed.  He also showed me where and how to adjust it myself.  Using the “Do say what you want” elicited both a response from him and also an action.

This example showed the huge difference between a closed question (it came across just as a fleeting note) versus specific statement and request.  When I asked for exactly what I wanted in a respectful way, the response and outcome was that the request was complied with and I even learned how to do it myself.  It worked far better.  My first closed question and the resulting response irritated me.  If I am assertive (which means clear, direct, and respectful), and then I can prevent irritation and it works smoothly.

When have you found yourself in a similar situation?  How does closed question instead of a forthright and specific statement make a difference for accomplishing what you want?  Being clear and direct is more respectful to everyone.  It also means when asking for something you are more likely to get it the first time you ask.

Coaching certification with the Center for Coaching Certification taught me how to ask open questions and how to be clear and direct.

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