How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
The Three-Part Message
The three-part message is a simple framework that you can use to give an assertive message when others are doing something on which you want to comment.
1. Describe behavior
Describe the specific behavior of the other person in question. Note that this can be both undesirable behavior or desirable behavior.
Do this simply, clearly and accurately, without any accusation or judgmental language.
2. Describe how you feel
Describe how the behavior makes you feel.
Do this clearly and assertively, with a minimal display of emotions.
3. Show the wider effect of their behavior
Describe what the effect of the behavior is, beyond the basic effect on your emotions.
This can be include how you behave, after being triggered into the emotional state, or how it affects other people and things.
When you tell me what you want me to do I feel threatened because you raise your voice and stare at me.
You have stayed after hours recently to complete this work. This makes me really proud of you and has helped us to catch up with all the lost work.
You often give work in late, which I find really annoying as it makes the whole department look disorganized.
Assertive messages can sometimes be difficult for the other person to accept. Clear descriptions, as with other assertive methods, helps the other person to easily understand what you are describing.
People often do not realize the effect of their actions on other people. Describing your emotions can be quite a surprise for many. It is also impossible for them to deny this: only you can describe how you feel.
The full extent of the effect of the behavior is also not always realized. Explaining this helps the other person to accept the impact of what they have done, beyond having affected your emotions.