Assertiveness Skills Training Tips

Assertiveness Training

A practical approach Saying No. This bit deals with the idea that our behaviour consists of much more than a choice of just nice or nasty.

Assertiveness - Not Nice Not Nasty

Working in the Middle Ground

This kind of pushy approach to assertiveness leaves people with the impression that there are only two states or behaviours they can do: Nice or Nasty. When, in fact, they have forgotten a whole range of assertive behaviour that lies between Nice and Nasty that can be termed Not-Nice (or even Not-Nasty).

What we've seen with assertiveness, is that it is often seen as a single form of behaviour: just say no, stand your ground, be a broken record - all quite difficult if you are truly unassertive, or in our jargon - simply too nice for your own good. The concept of asserting yourself, (getting your voice heard, being understood, being taken into account, getting your own way) needs to be broadened to include all forms of behaviour. It can include humour, submission, irresponsibility, manipulation, playfulness, aggressiveness, etc.

The key point here is that the behaviour - nice, not-nice, nasty - is chosen. We emphasise the word key, because until people are able to choose behaviour that's free from the limiting effects of their fear of possible consequences, they will not be able to act no matter how well they are taught assertiveness. They will still feel overwhelmed in difficult situations.

I Couldn't Possibly be Assertive

Then of course, there are the justifications; the reasons non assertive people come up with to excuse their compliant behaviour. Here are a few assertiveness excuses we've heard over the years:

"My husband gets annoyed when I disagree, so it seems easier to simply say yes, than cause an argument."

"When I don't want to do something for the umpteenth time (like the school run) my head says no, but my mouth says yes, and I end up doing it anyway."

"I'll be seen as too pushy and besides, politeness is important."

"I'd rather be in a relationship than out of one, so if that means keeping the peace rather than stirring things up, I'll keep quite about what's bothering me."

"My parents always expect me for Sunday lunch; I couldn't possibly disappoint them."

"Sometimes I feel as though I apologise simply for breathing; I say sorry whether I mean it or not."

"But everyone expects me to cook Christmas dinner. How could I stop doing it now for no good reason?"

"If my boss is late with his reports, he expects me to stay late to get them done. I won't get promoted if I refuse."

The thing about all this is not to do with assertiveness. It's that over-accommodating people think it's normal; that they don't really have a choice about whether to behave like this or not.

Next page managing feelings around assertiveness

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For Tailored Assertiveness Training see Assertiveness Training

For One-to-One Assertiveness Skills see Executive Coaching

If you want some in-depth thoughts about Assertiveness, read the article called
Is Assertiveness the Only Way


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