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Assertiveness Tip: Broken Record

Assertiveness Tip: Broken Record
When I reached out to a fellow productivity trainer, Casey Moore, to ask about her favorite assertiveness training book, she referred me to the seminal piece When I Say No, I Feel Guilty by Manuel Smith.

Mr. Smith offers six systematic assertiveness skills you can start using today to harness a more assertive posture. This is the first in a series to showcase descriptions and dialogue examples taken from the book. (The 1970s references should give you a chuckle.)

broken record


“One of the most important aspects of being verbally assertive is to be persistent and to keep saying what you want over and over again without getting angry, irritated, or loud. In using broken record…don’t give up after you hear your first ‘no’…[and don’t be] deterred by anything the other person may say…keep saying in a calm, repetitive voice what you want to say until the other person accedes to your request or agrees to a compromise.

“SALESMAN: You do want your children to learn faster, don’t you?

CARLO: I understand, but I’m not interested in buying.

SALESMAN: Your wife would want her children to have them.

CARLO: I understand, but I am not interested.

SALESMAN: It’s awful hot out here, do you mind if I come in for a drink of water? 

CARLO: I understand, but I am not interested.

SALESMAN: You don’t understand or you would want to buy these for your children.

CARLO: I understand how you feel, but I’m not interested. 

“[With] stereotyped dialogues like this one…[you can learn to] change this compulsive habit of answering any question or responding to any statement… This habit is based upon our belief that when someone talks to us, we ‘should’ have an answer and ‘should’ respond specifically to whatever the other person says.”

What situations have you encountered of late where refraining from response and using the broken record technique might have delivered a better outcome? Who can you test using this method?

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