Negative Assertion

The aim of this exercise is for one participant to practice the assertiveness technique known as negative assertion. This technique comes from When I Say No I Feel Guilty, by Manuel J. Smith. Negative assertion involves looking more comfortably at negatives in your own behavior or personality without feeling defensive or anxious, i.e. accepting your errors or faults, without apologizing merely to appease a critic.

Example: "I don't like the language you're using." Many times our first reaction is to be defensive, and while you have a right to express yourself, perhaps by swearing, a possible negative assertion response might be, "I do sometimes use language that's inappropriate, and I could stand to work on being more tactful."