Working with nerves and developing assertiveness


Career management

Target group

Members of the Doctoral Schools

Key words

Confidence, assertiveness, nerves and anxiety, limiting thoughts and perceptions, communication, feedback, mindfulness


Everyone needs to communicate effectively, and at all stages of a research career. Many though, are unnerved by important conversations, by presentations or by difficult discussions. This session is designed to help you communicate and act effectively and assertively whatever the setting.

Developing assertiveness and confidence is a practice; by regularly practicing the learning from this course, participants will be better able to express themselves clearly and with growing confidence. This practice will help participants settle down and work through bouts of nervousness and to notice and develop periods of confidence. Through regular use of the tools, people will develop their ability to receive important feedback in a constructive fashion and to respond and work realistically with the demands made by others.


Due to the Covid-19 safety measures, this course is taking place VIRTUALLY via Zoom. The programme is slightly adapted to this format.

This event is a highly experiential, hands-on workshop that requires your interaction and active reflection on the material covered. We won't be delivering a lecture or telling you 'the answers' - rather we'll be providing some tools and an environment where you can find your own. We ask you to learn by practicing with the tools and methods we cover, and to apply them to real situations, so what you learn is immediately applicable, personal and memorable. Please come along ready to contribute and participate fully.


By the end of this workshop you will:

  • Have explored the nervous state, its behaviours and their consequences
  • Have practiced several powerful tools for working through nervousness
  • Have looked at the underlying perception of ‘risk’ that builds nervousness
  • Have explored how you typically relate to other people and how this affects communication
  • Have practiced tools for communicating assertively
  • Have developed and practiced methods to build confidence through practice and experimentation

Time schedule & Venue

Course code

Dates 2020-2021

(1 course = 2 x 0,5 day)

Time Subject


25/11/2021 +



- Introductions and context for the workshop
- Working with curiosity and mindfulness
- Recognising helpful and unhelpful patterns and confidence

- Perception in communication and feedback
- Assertive communication and practice


Registration fee

Free of charge for members of the Doctoral Schools. The no show policy applies.

Registration procedure

Use the following registration link:

If the course is fully booked, please send an email to and ask to be added to the waiting list by mentioning your student number and the course code of your choice.


All PhD students; no previous knowledge required


Dr Jamie McDonald (

Teaching and learning material

References to relevant resources will be given at the event and participants provided with handouts and worksheets to capture major inputs.

Teaching methods

Interactive workshop

Number of participants




Evaluation methods and criteria (doctoral training programme)

100% attendance and active participation