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Section 20
Domineering Resident Technique #5
Three Parts to an Assertive Statement

Table of Contents

An assertive statement has three parts: 1. I think, 2. I feel, 3. I want. The key here is to craft you statements so your reply to Hester’s complaint is not aggressive, escalating negative feelings; nor is your reply non-assertive, letting Hester run all over you.  The reply you create to Hester’s complaint is assertive.  By assertive I mean you state you position factually in a calm, empathetic, professional manner.  Here are examples of the three parts your reply to a complaining resident can contain: 1. I think, 2. I feel, and 3. I want

Part #1. I think…. “Hester, I heard from the Director of Nursing that you feel I should be fired for canceling the second weekly Bingo.”  The “I think” component is an objective description of what you see, hear, or notice. “The facts, and nothing but the facts,” as you perceive them. An assertive statement presents these facts without judgment, blaming, or guessing the intentions of the other person.  "Hester, I notice you are in the dining room sitting here waiting for Bingo to start."    You may recall, in the previous Section this concept of an “I think” statement is termed “rephrasing” as it is described in relation to de-escalating a conflict.

Your "I think" objective description could consist of what you see, hear, and/or noticed.

Complete the “I think” statements below.  

I see…

I hear…

I notice…  

Permission is granted to duplicate this table for staff use.  Considering using these ideas as a guide for additional Journaling.

Sometimes it’s hard to separate the facts from your feelings, but separating the facts from your feelings is the first step in reducing the resident's angry spiral. Stating the facts lays the issue on the table. You’ll be more likely to get the other staff members or resident’s cooperation if you start with an objective statement than if you start with an insult, challenge, or sarcasm.  Obvious?  Right!  But how many times have people not followed this obvious idea?  Insults, challenges, and sarcastic statements fuel your own anger and make the other person defensive and as angry as you.  Noth­ing is solved, and of course nothing changes. So

Part #2. I feel… “I was not surprised because I know you asked me last week to have Bingo every day.”  Reminder to Hester… “I explained to you why the Tuesday game was being canceled.”  The “I feel” statement acknowledges your honest reaction.  It lets the other person become aware of how his or her behavior affects you without using tactics that blame, scare, or in­timidate—and without making the other person defensive. (Remember the Blamer style described in Section #2 of this Manual?  If not, you might review the list in Section #2 under "The Blamer") At first, you may want to use a structure like the following to state your feelings: "When you yell at me I feel uncomfortable."  “When __________happens, I feel __________.”
Of course, it’s important to look for and acknowledge other feelings that may underlie your or your resident’s anger or other negative feeling.

Often anger is the overriding emotion and the only one of which you are aware. Worry, fear, disappointment, guilt, and embarrassment are some emotions that can lead to your or your resident's anger.

Notice that the emphasis of these statements is on the “I.” “I think” or “I feel.” Take responsibility for your own experience. She doesn’t “make you nervous.” (Reread the first part of Section #3, if you need to reaffirm this concept.)  He doesn’t “make you feel inadequate.”

When you blame others for how you are feeling, you end up feeling helpless. When you take responsibility
 for what you feel, you give your­self the power to change the situation.

Sometimes people think they are using “I” messages when they are really using “you” messages and blaming the other person. For instance, “I think you are being controlling,” or “I feel you are taking advantage of this situation.” The “facts” should be as objective and fair as a photograph—a statement or a picture of what is there. The “feelings” are a statement of your emotional reaction, not a judgment or attack.

Compare the blaming “you” message above with assertive statements.   To a significant other you may state, “When you make decisions without consulting me, I feel discounted and frustrated that I don’t have any input about important issues.” The facts are there, the feelings are there, and the other person knows what’s bothering you without feeling accused of being “controlling.” Also, the other person gets to understand your limits without being accused of being “inconsiderate or selfish.”  Avoid blaming, accusing, or controlling statements like:  "I think you_______."  Or "I feel you______."

Below, complete the following:

“When                                                                                       happens, I feel/felt                                                                 ."

Add rationale, if needed:

Do you feel Journaling additional "I feel" statements would be beneficial to you?

Part #3. I want… “I am interested in providing you with an activity program on Friday when you were used to attending that second Bingo game.  So you might think about looking at magazines or watching your soap opera at that time.”
The “I want” part…of an assertive statement is the most important. Here are the guidelines for making a request: (1) Be sure to deal with only one area at a time. (2) Make your request specific. (3) Make your request behavioral or observable.

Ask for behavior change. You can’t demand that residents or people in your life change their attitudes, values, priorities, or feelings. Well, I guess you can, but how well does it work?  Demanding change usually backfires and the receiver digs in his or her heels and feels resentful.  You can only ask that they change behavior. Even though you can’t demand a change in attitude, when behavioral changes do occur, attitudes and feelings often change as well.

Below write the “I want” part of your Assertive Statement using the following three rules.

(1) Be sure to deal with only one area at a time.  (2) Make your request specific. (3) Make your request behavioral or observable. 



Do you feel Journaling additional "I want" statements would be beneficial to you?

Oftentimes, basically what you want a domineering resident to know is there are independent activities available should they wish to do them during the time when there used to be group activities.  Saying what you think (the facts), feel, and want, adds up to a complete assertive statement. Using this format will make it easier to organize your thoughts, avoid anger-evoking attacks, and get attention for your needs.

Forward to Section 21
Back to Section 19

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