Assertive Communication

Sometimes, we find ourselves in difficult situations or communicating with difficult people who just “don’t get it”.

Assertiveness means protecting our rights without violating the rights of another person.  This includes:

  • Saying “No”
  • Expressing how you feel, what you think, what you want and what you need
  • Being treated with respect
  • Making decisions about our own lives
  • Having the freedom to make mistakes and taking responsible for them
  • Changing some situations
  • Being able to communicate “I don’t know”, “Maybe” and “I don’t understand”
  • Having the right to privacy
  • Being able to ask for help
  • Being able to grow, learn and change

Useful phrases

People who use AAC may need vocabulary to be assertive. Vocabulary can be represented in pictures, text and spelling. It is suggested that vocabulary be introduced within a learning context where people can learn how and when to use it.

Items Sample vocabulary
Opinions Yes and No
I don’t know
I don’t care
I need to think about it
I agree
I don’t agree
Preferences I’d prefer
I like it when…
I don’t like it when…
There’s a problem I have a problem with that
I have an issue
I want to talk to you about something
Something is bothering me
Feelings I feel…
I don’t feel…
When you do that I feel…
Urgency This is important
It’s not important
Feedback That’s great!
That’s not what I want
This is unacceptable
AAC devices can sound harsh. Some participants recommend using phrases to make their messages sound more polite.
I’m sure you don’t mean it, but…
Don’t take this the wrong way, but…
It might help if you…
I’d prefer if you…
Take action I need you to…
I want …
Could you…
Otherwise I will have to…
Negotiating What do you suggest?
What do you need to happen?
I need this to happen…
Monitoring Let’s try it for a while
Let’s see how it goes
Let’s meet again …
Let’s keep a record

Picture display