In People Who Can’t Take No For An Answer–And PUNISH You For It we wrote that with some people, negotiation can turn into manipulation, or worse, retaliation.

In this post, we share a three-part assertive communication technique that, with practice, will help you deal with manipulators and other assorted bullies.

If you want to know how to be more assertive so that you effectively end another person’s attempts to manipulate you or retaliate against you for not giving in to their demands, these three steps might seem simple–but in most cases they do work. They do require practice, however. If you can, role-play with a friend or family member so you can get a good grasp of them before you put them into action.

These are called the ABCs of assertive communication, and although there are numerous variations, this version is easy to use and effective. They are Affect, Behavior, and Consequence (they work in some parenting situations, too.)

  1. Affect–this is your feelings. You begin to speak up for yourself by describing the feelings you are  experiencing. For example: I feel really worried when…
  2. Behavior–this is the behavior the other person engages in which you find objectionable. For example: when you stop to visit friends and don’t call me because…
  3. Consequence–this is the effect of the behavior on me. For example: because I don’t know where you are and I’m concerned for your safety.

The above example describes what, if habitual, might be a passive-aggressive form of bad behavior. But the ABCs work in many instances. Here’s another example:

Affect–I feel anxious Behavior–when you won’t let me finish my sentences Consequence–because it makes me feel that what I have to say isn’t important.

What the ABCs aren’t: They aren’t attacking. They aren’t bullying. And they aren’t conflict-creating.

They begin with “I” and describe the upsetting behavior in terms of your personal feelings. They do not accuse the other person of having ill motives.