Book review: Assertiveness At Work

​Want to know how to draw boundaries, say “no”, and negotiate a win-win situation?

(Who doesn’t?)

I’m a big fan of books that show you the actual steps you need to take to do something, and Assertiveness at Work: A Practical Guide to Handling Awkward Situations delivers. It’s a thoroughly practical book packed with actionable tips. Authors Ken Back and Kate Back have been assertiveness trainers for decades, and it shows.

The book focuses on assertiveness scenarios in the workplace. One thing I particularly enjoyed is that the Backs are very sensitive to the need to please your boss (and other superiors), so they avoid giving one-size-fits-all (“just draw some boundaries”) type advice.

I do have two complaints:

First, like many other books in the “professional development” category, Assertiveness at Work ignores the existence of non-corporate workplaces. So those creatives, freelancers, students, solopreneurs, and work-from-homers among us? We’ll have to be a bit imaginative in working out how to apply the book’s lessons to our own lives. (But we’re used to that, right?)

Second, most of the examples used in the book are about men with names like Steve and John. Diversity is so easy to achieve in fictional examples, so it would be great to see more of it in Assertiveness at Work.


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