Every relationship is an exchange of power. The power may vary depending on the
closeness of the relationship and the impactfulness of a particular person. The goal is to
have a WIN-WIN result where each person feels valued and empowered by the interchange.
Too often, however, relationship exchanges end up WIN-LOSE or LOSE-LOSE. A person’s
communication style has a lot to do with the outcome.
Do you know your customary way of communicating with people? Do you tend toward
being an unassertive pleaser or an aggressive controller? Take the following inventory and you will have an
indication about your style.
Answer each question with a 0-1-2-3-4
0 = no or never 1= somewhat or sometimes 2= average, somewhere in the middle
3= usually or often 4= practically always or entirely
1. When a person is highly unfair, do you call it to his/her attention?
2. Do you find it difficult to make decisions?
3. Are you openly critical of others’ ideas, opinions, behavior?
4. Do you speak up in protest when someone moves ahead of you in line?
5. Do you often avoid people or situations for fear of embarrassment?
6. Do you usually have confidence in your own judgment?
7. Do you insist that your spouse or roommate take on a fair share of household chores?
8. Are you prone to “fly off the handle?”
9. When a salesperson makes an effort, do you have trouble saying no?
10.When a latecomer is waited on before you are, do you call attention to the situation?
11.Are you reluctant to speak up in a discussion or debate?
12.If a person has borrowed something from you, and it is overdue, do you mention it?
13.Do you continue to pursue an argument after the other person has had enough?
14.Do you generally express what you feel?
15.Are you disturbed if someone watches you at work?
16.If someone keep bumping your chair in a movie or lecture, do you ask the person to stop?
17.Do you find it difficult to maintain eye contact when talking to another person?
18.When your meal is improperly cooked or served in a restaurant, do you ask for satisfaction?
19.When you discover faulty merchandise, do you return it for an adjustment?
20.Do you show your anger by name-calling or obscenities?
21.Are you shy in social situations?
22.Do you insist that your landlord, mechanic, repairman, etc… “make things right?”
23.Do you often step in and make decisions for others?
24.Are you able to openly express love and affection?
25.Are you able to ask your friends for small favors or help?
26.Do you think you always have the right answer?
27.When you differ with a person you respect, are you able to speak up for your viewpoint?
28.Are you able to refuse unreasonable requests by friends?
29.Do you have difficulty complimenting or praising others?
30.If you are very disturbed by someone smoking near you, can you say so to the person?
31.Do you shout or use bullying tactics to get others to do as you wish?
32.Do you finish other people’s sentences for them?
33.Do you get into physical fights with others, especially strangers?
34.At family meals, do you control the conversation?
35.When you meet a stranger, are you the first to introduce yourself and begin conversation?
The inventory above should give you a sense of which way you lean on a continuum from
unassertive-passive to an assertive-aggressive posture in communication.
UNASSERTIVE behavior: shying away, not communicating what you see or feel; withdrawing, being oblique and vague. The other person does not really know where you stand.
AGGRESSIVE behavior: direct communication of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors at the expense of the other. Win at any cost.
ASSERTIVE behavior: direct, honest, appropriate communication of thoughts, feelings, and behavior that respects one’s own rights and those of others. Win-win communication and collaboration.