Assertive Communication Skills Activities

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Students have to be able to communicate effectively, and part of this is learning to be appropriately assertive. These activities can give your students practice with assertive communication.

Assertive Communication

When teaching students necessary practical skills, and when developing social and emotional learning, communication is key. In general, we can categorize communication styles as assertive, aggressive, passive, or passive-aggressive. Students need to learn to express their opinions and stand up for their ideas without losing empathy, becoming aggressive, or shrinking back into their shells. These activities can help them practice positive, assertive communication.

Assertive Communication Skills Activities

The Eye Contact Conversation

Part of assertive communication is learning to maintain eye contact and body posture. Divide the class into pairs. Partners will stand, backs straight, facing each other. Give the partners a topic to discuss (anything from favorite foods to politics). Each person will talk for thirty-second intervals, switching back and forth. What they're saying doesn't have to be very profound, as long as they keep talking. However, partners must maintain complete and unbroken eye contact the entire time. This will feel a bit weird and awkward but will help students realize that eye contact in normal conversations is not that intimidating.

  • Materials: List of conversation topics

Writing Communication

Ask each student to draw a scenario at random from a bowl or hat. Try to tailor these scenarios to the needs of your class. This could include a person who needs to ask for something, needs to say no to something, has to complete a physical task with someone else, etcetera. Students will write four very short stories. In the first, the protagonist will handle this scenario with passive communication, in the second with passive-aggressive communication, in the third with aggressive communication, and the fourth with assertive communication.

  • Materials: Scenarios, writing supplies

Silent Movie

Divide the students into small groups. You can either give students a script or provide them with a scenario and ask them to write a short silent-movie scene. This means that students must figure out how to communicate all of the emotions and action without speaking. This will require them to think about body language and be assertive with nonverbal communication.

  • Materials: Scripts or scenarios, writing supplies, props if desired

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