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Role Plays for Assertiveness Training

by Sue Bishop

This rich collection of ready-made role play material designed to reinforce assertiveness training. Each technique used is introduced with an explanation, sample dialogues and handouts listing relevant do's and don't's.

Full Description:   

Out of Print! Old stock maybe available.

Here is a rich collection of ready-made role play material designed to reinforce assertion training. Each of the 25 role plays includes briefing sheets for the participants and guidance on how to process the activities to ensure maximum learning.

    This manual covers the following assertiveness techniques:

  • Broken record
  • Saying "NO"
  • Setting limits
  • Asking for what we want
  • Self-assertion
  • Dealing with the angry person
  • Handling your own anger
  • Dealing with sexual harassment
  • Dealing with money matters
  • Dealing with the talkative person

Each technique is introduced with an explanation, sample dialogues and handouts listing relevant do's and don't's. Additional support is provided in the form of a summary of key techniques and an "Assertiveness Bill of Right's."

Sample Activity


The final role play in this manual is slightly different from the others. It can involve all members of the group, certainly in the planning stage if not in the actual practice of the self-assertion - this would depend on the time available and the number in the group.

Because of previous experience and childhoold conditioning, most of us find it difficult to sing our own praises. We are afraid of offending people, of appearing conceited, boastful, egotistical or superior. However, there are occasions when we should set modesty aside and assert our qualities, achievements, skills and attributes in a positive and forceful way. The recruitment interview is one such occasion. To succeed, a candidate should appear to the interviewer as someone self-assured and confident; someone who 'can', not someone who 'thinks they might be able to. This confidence has to be choreographed however, so that word, actions and all non-verbal communication combine to present someone able and assured, yet not too casual, arrogant, pompous or pushy - in other words, an assertive approach is called for.

In order to present ourselves in such a way, we need to do some homework on our qualities and strengths. Like any good salesperson, we must know the product from A to Z, and become skilled in selling its good points. In this case, of course, the product we are selling is ourselves.

Trainer's notes

The role plays concern being interviewed, and will ask individuals to sell their strengths to others. The setting is immaterial - a recruitment interview, a promotion interview, internal or external. The point of the exercise is to enable individuals to recognize the value, and name, in an assertive way, their attributes and skills.

Firstly, allow group members some time to list what they are good at. These will be skills and attributes, work or socially based. For individuals normally reluctant to think about themselves in a positive way, this can be a daunting and difficult task, so the time needed for this, and the support given by the trainer will obviously differ from group to group.


Either divide groups into triads, so that each individual has the chance to interview, be interviewed and to give feedback; or ask for volunteers to be interviewed in front of the whole group; or explain that everyone will be interviewd in front of the whole group. A group member or the trainer could conduct these interviews. The option you choose will depend on the cohesion and supportiveness of the group, the confidence of individuals, the time available, and so on.

ROLE PLAY: The Interview

Interviewee's brief

In the space below, write down as many things as you can that you are good at. For example: 'I am well organized', 'I am a good listener', 'I am loyal', 'I relate well to children' etc.


Next, think of your skills. What can you do? List these. For example:'I can operate a word processor', 'I can do my own car maintenance', 'I am numerate', 'I can cook' etc.


ROLE PLAY: The Interview

Interviewer's brief

The type of interview you are conducting is immaterial. It doesn't matter what sort of job is being applied for. You are to ask any of the following questions to test the individuals' ability to 'sell' themselves assertively:

  1. 'Why do you think you are right for this job?'
  2. 'What do you consider to be your strengths?'
  3. 'There are several applicants for this position; why should we employ you?'
  4. 'Why should I include you on my shortlist?'

All of these questions require interviewees to sell their strengths - to articulate their value, their skills and positive qualities - to show self-assertion.

To keep the role play going, ask probing questions too, using who-what-why-when-how type open questions. Also:

  • 'What else?' (to encourage interviewee to give further examples).
  • 'Go on' (as above).
  • 'Can you give me an example?' (to give the interviewee the opportunity to back up their assertion).

ROLE PLAY: The Interview

Observer's brief

Please consider the following points in order to give the interviewee constructive feedback after the role play.

What was the physical setting of the mock interview - were the chairs of similar height? Was the distance between them appropriate? What about the angle of the chairs? Could the interviewee have done anything to make the situation either more equal, or more comfortable?

Did the interviewee sit in an assertive way, i.e. upright, relaxed, open posture? If not, did they tend to be too casual or tense? How did this show itself? Was eye contact appropriate? Did they tend to look at the floor, or their hands rather than at the interviewer when responding to questions? Was the gaze perhaps too constant? What impression might this give an interviewer? How did they use their hands throughout the interview? Were they used appropriately to demonstrate enthusiasm, but without excessive gestures? Were they gripped nervously, or clasped in a relaxed way?

Did they assert their attributes and skills in a confident way? Was the tone of vioice appropriate? Did they us 'I think' statements or 'I can' assertions? Did they use any 'My boss (or partner, or mother, etc.) says that I'm good at...' type statements?

Any other comments?

ROLE PLAY: The Interview

Trainer's notes

How you process the role plays will depend on how you chose to conduct them. If triads were used, the processing has to take place with the trainer circulating around these sub-groups, offering guidance, support and feedback on an individual basis. General comments and observations can be made in plenary after everyone has had the chance to be interviewed.

If, however, either of the other options is chosen, it may be easier to use the questions put in the Observer's brief as a guide to the processing, pulling out different aspects as appropriate.

Whichever method is chose, the interviewee must be given positive and constructive feedback, with, if possible, the opportunity to follow up this role play with more practice in self-assertion.

314 pages; 9 X 11;soft bound


  • Preface
  • Summary of key techniques
  • Everyone's Bill of Rights
  • Introduction
      Broken record
    1. Excuses, Excuses
    2. The photocopier
      Saying 'No"
    1. The gloomy corner
    2. The doormat
    3. Huggy bear
      Setting limits
    1. The last straw
    2. The dependent
      Asking for what we want
    1. Ear-muffs or showers?
    2. Can I go?
    3. Statutory rights
      Dealng with the talkative person
    1. If I only had time
    2. By appointment only
    3. Rabbit, rabbit
      Dealing with the angry person
    1. Piggy-in-the-middle
    2. Pay up or...
    3. Hot stuff
      Handling your own anger
    1. Who's in charge
    2. The confidant
    3. The absent-minded professor
      Dealing with sexual harassment
    1. The treasure
    2. The price of friendship
    3. What am I worth
    1. Sales talk

    Stock- Out of Print! Old stock maybe available.

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