You are here

You are here

“Getting What We Want Without Being A Jerk: The Elements of Assertiveness” with Rhonda Sutton, Ph.D., LPC

Thursday, May 19, 2016
9:30 am to 11:00 am

We've all been there - your ideas are dismissed in lab meeting, or you get a curt email from a colleague, or your PI acts frosty because your project isn't working, or somebody else gets first authorship when it was promised to you. But you worry that if you complain you'll be seen as difficult. And if you don't complain, you'll feel like a doormat!

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we could have done a better job communicating what we wanted, or where we felt our ideas were not well received. Perhaps we sounded too timid, or maybe too demanding. Perhaps the others involved in the exchange were distracted, angry or simply unwilling to listen. Other times, conflicts arise and addressing the conflicts can cause discomfort, turmoil and frustration. These situations call for assertive communication, which is very different from passive or aggressive communication. Assertiveness is a skill most of us need to learn and many of us do not easily use.

This workshop will provide participants with the basic elements of assertive communication, as well as how to utilize these in different situations that are unique to postdocs and graduate students. Whether the situation involves a PI, a lab colleague, an outside collaborator, or a potential employer, this program will outline the transferable assertive techniques to use in these interactions so that more productive communication can occur and conflicts can be resolved (or even potentially avoided!)


Rhonda Sutton, PhD, LPC, is Organizational Development Leader at North Carolina State University and a licensed professional counselor who received her doctorate in Counselor Education in 1999. Dr. Sutton has been a counselor for over 20 years, and she also has experience as an administrator in higher education where she was director of a women's center, an assistant vice provost in an equal opportunity office, and a director of postdoctoral affairs. Dr. Sutton's work focuses on guiding people in their personal and professional development so they can find their own unique ways of leading productive and fulfilling lives, and she appreciates the opportunity to work with both individuals and groups so that they can achieve personal and professional success.

This workshop is sponsored by the Office of Postdoctoral Services and The Graduate School and is open to graduate students and postdocs. Questions? Contact Molly Starback at

 Register now 


Room 143 Jones Building
Map and Directions

Event Category

  • Professional Development