Assertiveness Workshop Outline

Jeff E. Brooks-Harris, Ph.D.
Counseling and Student Development Center
University of Hawai'i at Manoa


Goal: To help participants recognize their own patterns of communication and to increase their comfort with and use of assertive communicationa and behavior.

Group Size: Ten to twenty participants would be ideal.

Time Required: One to two hours depending on the amount of time used to experiment and practice.

Materials: Handouts; Signs for the four corners exercise.

Physical Setting: A room large enough for participants to move around during the four corners exercise.


Workshop Outline:

  1. Introductions and Overview of Program
  2. Assimilating and Conceptualizing: Definitions
  3. Reflecting on Experience: Four Corners Sorting Exercise
    1. Post signs on the four corners of the room that read, "Assertive," "Passive," "Aggressive," and "Passive Aggressive."
    2. Describe different situations and ask participants to move to one of the corners of the room based on how they would probably act in that situation.
    3. After everyone has chosen a corner, you can ask someone from each corner to give an example of an action that would constitute that type of behavior (assertion, passivity, etc.). If you think someone is mislabeling their behavior, you can discuss the discrepancy (e.g., "What makes you think that that behavior is aggressive?").
    4. Example situations include:

      a. Your friend offers to give you a ride and is half an hour late.
      b. Your friend offers to give you a ride to a job interview and is half an hour late and you miss the interview.
      c. The person who lives in the next room is playing their stereo loud enough that you canÍt study.
      d. You are in line at the movies and some people cut in line in front of you.
      e. You have a new boyfriend or girlfriend who you really like but you donÍt really like the way they kiss.
      f. You get a "C" on an essay test but you think you deserve a "B."
      g. Your parents decide they donÍt want to help pay your tuition next semester because they are going to go on a cruise.
      h. You are in a restaurant and your food is not hot enough.
  4. Reflecting on Experience: Areas for Personal Assertiveness
  5. Assimilating and Conceptualizing: Types of Assertion
  6. Experimenting and Practicing: Role Play Practice
  7. Planning for Application: Action Plan
  8. Questions and Answers / Discussion

Jeff Brooks-Harris is a psychologist at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa's Counseling and Student Development Center.


Copyright © 1997 Jeff E. Brooks-Harris. Permission is granted to copy and use this material for educational and non-profit purposes only. This copyright statement and acknowledgement of authorship should remain intact on materials you copy from this website.