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Assertive communication: The DESO framework

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to a man in his language, that goes to his heart." -- Nelson Mandela


"The only healthy communication style is assertive communication." -- Jim Rohn


What is Assertive communication?

Of the four types of communication (Aggressive, Passive, Passive-Aggressive, and Assertive), Assertive communication is the most effective. A person who is an assertive communicator has presence, is caring, is compassionate, honest and courageous. Assertive communication is communicating and expressing your thoughts, feelings, and opinions in a way that makes your views and needs clearly understood by others, without putting down their thoughts, feelings, or opinions. It is honest, appropriate, respectful, and direct.



Assertive communication
Assertive communication is compassionate.


How to communicate assertively?

Almost always effective communication occurs when strong emotions are under control. Rather than "strike when the iron is hot", wait to "strike when the iron is cool."


Then, follow the DESO framework: Describe, Express, Specify, Outcome.

  • Describe: Describe the situation succinctly. Short statement about what's going on to orient somebody to the problem. What is this conversation going to be about?

  • Express: Express your feelings about the situation. What is this impact on you, what is your motive?

  • Specify: Make your request. Say what you want and what you are looking for. (Make it "SMART": Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.)

  • Outcome: Explain the benefits of the outcome for yourself and others. What is the positive outcome you are hoping for (as opposed to a negative outcome)?

This framework guides you to figure out what the problem is, intended outcome and a suggested solution.


Additional reading:

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