clifford chance

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Secretaries in a business in Paris


The secretaries in this organisation perform a vital role in delivering a first class service to clients. They work in a highly pressurised work environment where behaviours can sometimes be driven by this pressure and be reactive rather than thought through.


In order for the business to be as efficient as possible it is vital for the secretaries to be assertive in working with colleagues. But this can be counter instinctive with people in this role. Their first thought is to provide a great service which can easily be interpreted as always saying ‘yes’. However saying yes can sometimes lead to delivering a poorer service. This occurs when the secretary takes on too much work, puts too much pressure on themselves and as a consequence may miss deadlines or deliver less accurate work.


We developed a half day workshop with a blend of discussion on the secretaries’ individual situations and role play practice. We focussed on:

  • Identifying specific assertive responses to aggressive behaviours.
  • How to develop confidence in knowing how to be assertive
  • Developing confidence in identifying when to be assertive

We followed up with the participants on their actions, in a face to face session, 6 months later.


The main outcomes of this session were:

  • Every secretary developed knowledge of how they could be more assertive.
  • Each one implemented there action.
  • In every case the assertive behaviour created a positive response from their work colleague.
  • The work atmosphere for each participant improved.

Participant feedback


“Thank you, this has changed my whole approach to my work”

“We are all very grateful”

“My boss was a tiger, but now he is now a kitten!”

Client comment

The trainig was totally tailored to our business and our people. The guys really appreciated the approach and care taken with the training.