Assert Yourself

Angela Dash, Ph.D. Imagine “a bubble protecting your values, availability, capability, and needs.”

Feels good, right?

And a group of NEOMED employees gathered for a Women in NEOMED workshop led recently by NEOMED ombuds Angela Dash, Ph.D. (pictured at right), was ready to embrace that concept, as capsulized by the author Patrick King in his book The Art of Everyday Assertiveness: Speak Up. Say No. Set Boundaries. Take Back Control, recommended by Dr. Dash. The suggestions could be helpful to working professionals and students alike.

Conflict: not always a bad thing

During the skills training, a few surprising concepts were introduced. Consider this one, proposed by Dr. Dash: “Conflict isn’t always harmful and can lead to productive solutions.’’

Another suggestion Dr. Dash passed along from King: Think about your own values and frame them for yourself as personal policies. Then, if you’re asked to do something at odds with them, respond with a statement like, “I don’t xyz” instead of “I can’t do xyz.”

The most important idea that Dr. Dash wanted to stress was that assertive communication is the ability to speak up for your own needs and rights, while also respecting the needs and rights of others. Doing this requires taking a look at how you view yourself and knowledge of different assertive communication approaches (including both verbal and body language). Expect that it will take lots of practice – and that practicing may be uncomfortable, advises Dr. Dash.

What’s your communication style?

Even if you missed the session, you can take a free communication style quiz.

More training available

Any NEOMED group can contact Dr. Dash to request on-campus training, at no cost, by emailing or calling 330.281.0339. As the Ombuds for NEOMED, she not only is available for confidential consultations to assist with issues, concerns and disputes, including preparing for difficult conversations, but she supports the personal and professional development of students and employees through conflict coaching and training delivery.

For more information, visit and watch the following informational video.



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