Surveying Your Assertiveness Print

A Lesson Plan from Life Planning Education: A Youth Development Program

Purpose: To assess assertiveness
Materials: Three pieces of construction paper; markers; masking tape; newsprint and marker or board and chalk; Leader's Resource, "Surveying Your Assertiveness" (pdf), paper; pens/pencils; a handout made from Leader's Resource (optional)
: 30-40 minutes

Planning Notes:
  • In this activity, participants stand up and move about to demonstrate their levels of assertiveness. An alternate plan is to have teens complete their assertiveness survey individually. In that case, make a handout from the Leader's Resource.
  • Make three signs, reading Most of the time,. Some of the time" and Almost never." Place these on the wall prior to conducting the activity.
  • Create a poster with the following scores to tally survey results:
    • 0-5 You need to practice.
    • 6 10 You are doing okay, but could use some practice.
    • 11 15 You are doing very well. Keep it up!
  1. Tell the group that since assertiveness is the best way of communicating in many situations, it is important that everyone find out just how assertive they already are. Give each participant some paper and make sure each has a pen or pencil.
  2. Go over instructions for the activity:
    • I will read 15 statements. As I read each one, think about how often you do what the statement says.
    • There are three signs along the wall marked with “Most of the time," "Some of the Time” and “Almost never.”
    • When I read a statement, move to the sign that indicates how often that statement is true for you. Take your pen and paper with you. (Give an example using Statement 1.)
    • For each statement, note on paper where you are standing. Write “M" for most of the time, “S” for some of the time and “N” for almost never.
  3. Read the first statement again and ask participants to stand, taking paper and pencil with them, and move to the appropriate place along the wall. When all are in place, remind them to record where they are standing.
  4. Repeat this procedure for all 15 statements, then ask participants to be seated.
  5. Ask teens to write down the number of “M's” on their papers.
  6. Display the assertiveness scorecard you have made. Go over the numbers on the scorecard and explain what they mean. Make the following points:
    • Many teens and adults score fairly low on this survey.
    • Participants with scores higher than seven or eight should be glad they have learned how to speak up for what they want and to say "no" to things they do not want.
    • In our society, boys and men generally score higher than girls and women on assertiveness surveys such as this one.
    • People are more likely to treat others with respect when they have self respect and can stand up for themselves.
    • Participants with scores below six have an excellent opportunity to bring up their scores by practicing assertive behaviors.
  7. Discuss the fact that being assertive is not always an easy thing to do. Explain that in many families and cultures, children are taught not to be assertive. Asking for what you want or refusing a request is considered impolite. People in such families may feel badly about themselves, or angry, because they let others take advantage of them.
  8. Ask for examples of being taught to behave unassertively. Give two historical examples:
    1. As recently as the 1 950's and early 1 960's, African  Americans in the U.S. were taught not to speak up and not to refuse the request of a white person in certain parts of the country. The Civil Rights movement made it clear that the basic rights of African-Americans to dignity and self worth were being violated when they were forced to endure the whims and desires of white people.
    2. Girls and women in many cultures are taught not to speak up for themselves and not to refuse any request made by a male family member, even a younger brother. In the United States, that attitude is changing in some families who believe in the equality of males and females, but in some other families, the attitude is not changing.
  9. For many of us, behaving assertively is something we would like to do, but may not know how to do. Tell participants they will have an opportunity to practice being assertive in the next activity.
  10. Conclude the activity using the Discussion Points.
Discussion Points:
  1. What makes it so difficult to be assertive?
  2. Can you think of a situation in life in which you would like to be more assertive? Please describe the situation.
  3. Do you know someone who is particularly good at being assertive and standing up for her or his rights? How about a figure on a popular television show? Describe that person and her or his assertive behavior.
  4. Can you remember a time when you were assertive? How did it turn out?
  5. How can you be assertive and avoid sounding like you are being aggressive? (Answer: Be firm but not demanding or threatening; be insistent about standing up for yourself; use a normal tone of voice and keep your body language relaxed, not menacing.)
  6. Do you have a friend who needs to learn to be more assertive? Explain. How can you help?
Adapted with permission from Into Adolescence: Choosing Abstinence, ETR Associates, Santa Cruz, CA 1989. For information about this or other related materials, call 1 (800) 321~1407.
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