Assertive Strategies for Making & Refusing Requests


For some, making and refusing requests is a real challenge.  When people learn assertive skills for making and refusing requests, they become better able to develop more honest, positive relationships.


Assertive Strategies for Making Requests


  1. State the request

This is not the time to be wordy or to volunteer extra information.  Simply come right to the point and ask for what you need.  For example: Will you please pick me up from school tomorrow?

  1. Be persistent

If you feel that your request is being ignored or put off, be persistent in asking for an answer.  This does not mean that you will get an answer immediately, but it does mean that you will know when you can get an answer.  For example:  I need to know if you can pick me up by 7pm, so that I can tell Mrs. Weaver.


Along with your right to make a request comes another person’s right to refuse your request.  Learning how to assertively communicate a request does not always guarantee that you will get exactly what you want, when you want it.  That is not the goal of assertive communication, however. Rather, the goal is to for you to be able to express yourself in an emotionally honest, direct way and to build meaningful relationships with others.


Assertive Strategies for Refusing Requests


Not only do you have the right to make requests, but you have the right to refuse unreasonable requests from others.  In fact, saying “no” can be healthy when it prevents you from being controlled by others, taken advantage of, overwhelmed, or when it helps you steer clear of potential trouble. 


  1. Be direct, firm, and honest when refusing a request
  1. Ask for more information if you are not sure what the request involves
  1. Postpone giving an answer if you need more time to consider the request
  1. Use I-Messages to express your feelings assertively if the other person tries to force you into granting their request.


The ability to make and refuse requests assertively is a key element in emotionally honest, direct communication and in building positive, meaningful relationships.


These strategies for Making & Refusing Requests are excerpted from  How to Be Angry: Strategies to Help Kids Express Anger Constructively.  For more information or activity ideas on how to to teach assertive phrasing to kids, please check out How to Be Angry on this site or on

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