AS@W Antidepressant Skills at Work: Dealing with Mood Problems in the Workplace
Solving Problems Effectively
Assertiveness: A Powerful Tool for Problem-Solving

One of the keys to effective problem-solving (at work or home) is to act in an appropriately direct manner – that is, assertively. Assertive action is more likely than passive or aggressive action to solve problems effectively.

Passive action occurs when a person does not stand up for their own rights or does not express their own ideas and feelings, where these would b e appropriate   Aggressive action occurs when a person gets their own way at the unfair expense of others or expresses their own ideas and feelings without allowing others to do the same.   Assertive action occurs when a person acts in a way that balances their own rights with the rights of others, or expresses their own ideas and feelings while allowing or even encouraging others to do the same.

Example 1:
An employee who takes on tasks from other employees to help them out, and then finds herself swamped by her extra workload. She finds it very uncomfortable to tell them she’s at her limit. As a result, she is overloaded and unhappy at work. Also, she finds herself with less time for friends or personal activities.

Example 2:
A student who never speaks up in class because he believes that his opinions are not worth hearing, even when he knows the material and has interesting ideas. As a result, he feels anxious and frustrated in his courses, the instructor never finds out how much he knows, and his final marks are lower than they should be.


Example 1:
A supervisor who snaps out orders in a rude manner, ignores staff suggestions and is resented by those he is supervising (who see him as a bully). As a result, he is not able to get people to work together and the changes he imposes are resisted by staff. He feels unsupported at work. When he uses this aggressive style at home, he feels unsupported and lonely in his personal life.

Example 2:
A worker who takes over the floor at meetings and rarely allows anyone else to get a word in. Over time, others begin resenting this approach and resist her suggestions, no matter how good they are.


Example 1:
A supervisor who gives direction confidently, without being abrasive or ignoring the input of her employees. As a result, her suggestions and directives are generally well accepted and supported by staff, who give her the kind of teamwork and ‘buy-in’ that is needed.

Example 2:
An employee who expresses his views in meetings, but also makes a point of asking for (and seriously considering) the opinions of others. As a result, his views are received well by others in meetings, and he feels like he really has an impact when decisions are made – this gives him more satisfaction in his work and helps to mark him out for advancement.

Assertive action is more likely to solve problems than is passive or aggressive action.

You may download the worksheets or the entire book for use on your computer or for printing out.