Assertiveness Skills Training Tips

Assertiveness Training

A practical approach Saying No. If you are truly un-assertive, you will find it next to impossible to follow traditional assertiveness training advice.

It's Not Assertiveness

Assertiveness and Men

As we just mentioned, assertiveness training was originally created for women.

That's made it hard for men to admit that they could use some help becoming more forceful themselves. There is still a societal expectation that somehow men will innately know how to be assertive.

There's still a real stigma that many men feel: "I'll be seen as a wimp if I go on assertiveness training." "I'll be laughing-stock." "I'm OK, really. It's something I'm working on."

This is a bit of a raw deal because if you're not assertive and self-assured, it doesn't matter what gender you are, it feels awful, and life can be a really uncomfortable place to be.

Does Assertiveness mean I have to Be Pushy?

In a word...no, of course not (that's more than one word).

That kind of definition and its associated assertiveness training will not benefit truly unassertive people. It will intimidate them just as much their bully boss or difficult sibling.

So why is that?

It's really hard to change who we are - it's as simple as that.

We can change how we behave, we can even change how we think and feel, but change the underlying essence of our personalities takes an enormous amount of effort and will, and why would we want to anyway?

So now there's this dilemma: on the one hand you want to be assertive so that you don't get so intimidated, you can say no if you want, you can feel more in charge of difficult situations. On the other hand, you are who you are: maybe too nice for your own good, but also sensitive, aware, considerate and thoughtful. Why would you want to change those aspects of yourself?

If our premise is true, assertiveness has to be about something other than defending your rights and pushing yourself forward, because that may never happen, no matter how much you may fantasise about being the kind of assertive person who could do all those things.

"Yes, but sometimes I can be really aggressive. How does that fit in with being sensitive, compliant and accommodating?"

So Let's Talk About Aggression vs Assertiveness

Here's what happens. There you are thinking that you're really accommodating, taking care of other people, anticipating their needs and wants, sensitive to atmosphere, wanting everything to be 'nice' without conflict.

In this state people can often take advantage of you and by being so accommodating you will put other people's wishes often above your own. Inside, you get upset, resentful, hurt and know it just isn't fair, why don't people consider you for once?

A lot of the time you'll rehearse in your head things you could say to stop these things from happening. The problem is, you don't. What then happens is that all those little upsets begin to grow into one big one. It gets bigger and bigger every time you let these kinds of things happen to you, a smile on your face, while inside your tummy is churning.

Finally, one day you've had enough! The next time someone says something to you, expects you to stay late to finish up a report, drive the kids to school, or any number of little inconveniences, you're going to do it, you're going to say something. You plan the conversation in your head; you know exactly what you're going to say and even what they are going to say.

But this takes courage!

So you steel yourself for this encounter. By the time it comes around you've probably worked yourself into quite a lather, at least internally. When the moment comes this is what often happens: you're taken by surprise even though you were expecting it, and worst of all, all the words you had rehearsed go completely out of your head.

But in order to save the day you decide to go for it anyway. And blast the bad guy away with both barrels. Suddenly, your usual mild-mannered approach has turned into a full-scale attack. Not only that, you may be so horrified by what you have done that you either can't stop and keep on going, making things even worse, or you scurry away full of apologies and look for a corner in which to lick your wounds.

This is why what you wanted to look like assertiveness may seem like aggressiveness when aggression is the last thing on your mind

And this is another reason why assertiveness can sometimes get a bad reputation. If other people experience you as very accommodating and perhaps even a bit of a pushover, when you push back and it gets out of hand, people don't usually react very positively.

Next page assertiveness - not nice not nasty

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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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