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Assertive skills training in Scotland

Assertive skills training in Scotland: Our tips to get you started

Wondering where to start with assertive skills training in Scotland?

Well, being assertive is a skill, just like any other.

It can be learned, unlearned, remembered and forgotten.

And just like all skills, it needs to be practised every day to be used effectively when it matters most.

Having well-honed assertive skills can be the difference between being successful in a job interview, having solid working relationships and getting the pay rise you’ve been aiming for.

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Know your worth

I once sat around a table with some really distinguished athletes.

We went round the table and introduced ourselves.

All three had been to major international sporting events and brought back medals.

So what was holding them back from telling everyone that?

Part of it is a cultural cringe.

In Scotland and other parts of the world, we hate showing off.

So we play things down.

Instead, ask yourself: how would you introduce yourself in a job interview?

Write down several things about yourself:

  • Length of time with your organisation/in the industry
  • Big projects you’ve worked on
  • Relatable anecdotes to help people understand the value of your job

Now you have several capability statements.

Use them to assert your authority at the start of meetings, or to help give your points extra weight.

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Have a plan

Anyone can assert themselves by being rude or distant or simply saying no to everything.

It’s harder to lead through assertiveness.

You must start with a plan.

What do you want to say? Who is your audience? How will you frame it?

As soon as you know the answers to those questions, you have what we call a Pyramid of Communication.

That’s a list of points you want to make, prioritised in the order that the audience wants to hear them.

Now when you start making your points, you can speak directly to people’s motivations:

“What we all want is to make sure the project is successful”.

“This is vital to make sure everyone gets paid on time”.

“We have a big problem here and we need to fix it”.

These statements are designed to give you immediate control and authority.

Now you can dive into the detail on your suggestions.

assertive skills training in Scotland

Set clear boundaries

Of course, there will be times when you’re interrupted, or someone comes in with a tricky question.

You can either cede control at this point or take the initiative.

Best to answer their point or question directly, and then move back on to a point you wanted to make.

This sets clear boundaries and stops you from getting bogged down in someone else’s agenda.

The most obvious direct answers are “yes” and “no”.

But you have other options too.

“I don’t know” is honest and direct – it helps to build trust.

“It’s too early to say” gives you wiggle room if someone is pinning you down on time or cost.

“I can only speak for my experience” helps you avoid speculation on something that happened before your time, or in another department.

Use each of these as a springboard to move back into your Pyramid of points.

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Take your time


The surest sign that you’re comfortable and confident.

You’re allowed to take a few seconds before you speak to really think about your answer.

That’s a sign of strength.

You can do the same to let your points land.

And if you’ve asked the audience questions without a response, you’re allowed to wait until someone speaks.

When people have near-death experiences, they often say their lives flashed before their eyes.

That’s because in times of stress, like your presentation, we all process time much more quickly.

We hate silence when it’s on our watch, but it’s a great way to display confidence and assert yourself in front of others.

assertive skills training in Scotland

Show empathy

Assertiveness is a bedfellow of empathy.

We can bulldoze our way through the world making enemies and displaying ruthlessness at every opportunity.

That’s unlikely to build healthy relationships.

Instead, we can listen. Take our time. Understand people.

So while you’re getting your points across firmly and setting clear boundaries, be comfortable letting your guard down too.

Sorry is an expression of empathy, rather than an admission of liability.

Use it to apologise for being late, for someone feeling upset by your actions, or simply to let them know you see that they’re having a tough time.

Thank them for bringing difficult issues to your attention, and for letting their own guard down.

Avoid letting this derail your plan, but have a heart.

We call the combination of skills assertive empathy.

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Assertive skills training in Scotland

You can find out more about those skills here and here.

Asserting yourself is a learned skill, just like any other form of communication.

Put these five skills into place today and you’re far more likely to get what you’re looking for.

The new job. They pay rise. The healthy relationship.

Get in touch with the Pink Elephant team to find out how we can help boost your assertive skills.


Photos in Assertive skills training in Scotland: Our tips to get you started blog by Pink Elephant Communications. 
Assertive skills training in Scotland: Our tips to get you started blog
written by Andrew McFarlan.
Assertive skills training in Scotland: Our tips to get you started blog edited by Maxine Montgomery.

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