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Communication skill: Assertion

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Hello guys,

there's no thread on this topic yet. Here it is. I am currently reading "People skills" by Robert Bolton as recommended by @lucio. It is an excellent book. I particularly liked the part on listening as my listening skills have doubled I think from reading this chapter alone. The assertion part is also good.

However, and this is the reason of this thread, I find myself disagreeing several times with the author on the topic of assertion. Don't mistake me, I still recommend the book.

In particular, the author says that the goal is "behavior modification". I don't agree. I think it is "Self-expression" which is the acknowledgment that our self, opinions, values have value and deserve to be preserved. He also talks about how it is about preserving one's space and on this I think it is a very important concept.

To be vulnerable, I think it's better to express that "It's important for me". This lets the receiver knows that he/she did not know it was important before. Therefore, it's not accusatory, you're informing him/her of your needs. Second, it lets the other person the choice to NOT take into account your needs which is respectful. However, now there is a precedent. So if they repeat their offense, you can tell them that you already told you it's important to you and now they know it so you can insist. You can now use social pressure as knowing that something pisses somebody else and still doing it is a provocation and everybody knows it. So if you tell somebody else, they will be on your side even if what is important to you is petty, which is often is BTW.

Of course, always staying calm is a must when asserting oneself.

What do you think about assertion?

Quote from John Freeman on October 9, 2020, 7:44 pm

To be vulnerable, I think it's better to express that "It's important for me". This lets the receiver knows that he/she did not know it was important before. Therefore, it's not accusatory, you're informing him/her of your needs. Second, it lets the other person the choice to NOT take into account your needs which is respectful. However, now there is a precedent. So if they repeat their offense, you can tell them that you already told you it's important to you and now they know it so you can insist. You can now use social pressure as knowing that something pisses somebody else and still doing it is a provocation and everybody knows it. So if you tell somebody else, they will be on your side even if what is important to you is petty, which is often is BTW.

What do you think about assertion?

It makes sense, John.

Is it not what Bolton advises?

I remember that some of his examples felt a bit too much about feelings. And sometimes, a bit like standalone sentences.

One example:

Assertive communicator: When you make announcements over the loudspeaker system in the midst of the period when I am teaching, I feel frustrated because my lessons are interrupted

I don't think the "I feel frustrated" was optimal here, since it's a workplace scenario, and one is expected to leave feelings out and prioritize results.
And I would have also directly proposed solutions, rather than stop at the facts, else it feels like complaining or criticizing without going anywhere.

But, those were very basic and simple examples to provide with the basic structures and teach people the ABC, not to provide with higher levels of sophistication.

 

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Is it not what Bolton advises?

Not in the structure. See below.

I don't think the "I feel frustrated" was optimal here, since it's a workplace scenario, and one is expected to leave feelings out and prioritize results.
And I would have also directly proposed solutions, rather than stop at the facts, else it feels like complaining or criticizing without going anywhere.

That's exactly my point. And he's not seeing that. Have you read other books about assertion that you would recommend?

Great points you raised, John.

I actually amended the review of "People's Skills", and took it from 5 stars to 4 (and mentioned you there).

Some books on the topic I've read:

One of the issues I've noted with several social skills resources is that their sentences examples are super long.
Like they make the whole statement, from A (the situation), to Z (how you feel or what you want).

But that's not optimal, neither from a persuasion, nor from a power point of view (you're better off making a statement first, or just to say "excuse me", and giving the chance to rectify)

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

P.S.: going to read more now, looking for some diamonds in the rough, and might use it for a PU lesson on assertion.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

8 Keys to Eliminating Passive-Aggressiveness

Thanks for the references. I own this one above that I bought based on your recommendations and it's the one which is the most attractive to me.

I found it, thanks!

The “I feel” part of the assertion format can be out of place sometimes
Thanks to John I have also come to agree that Bolton’s standard format is not suitable for all situations.
The “I feel” part for example is out of place at work, where you’re supposed to be more factual and results-driven. And it can also be best left out when

That being said, for me the listening part was golden. I'm not finished with the book yet, though. I was just a bit disappointed with the assertion part as I had high expectations about it. I also think his ideas about humans using verbal skills to protect their territory and the submission-assertion-agression spectrum ideas are ideas that I will keep all my life.

2 important concepts I would like to share with you:

1. Assertion asks courage: I learned this thanks to a good supervisor I trust. I told about this one time in my journal when I was assertive with a nurse. She said that I was courageous.

2. Assertion is best achieved when calm and/or detached: I’m not sure you need an exact sentence structure. However I think we need a certain mindset and intention. It’s the intention of enforcing your boundaries with respect towards the person who crossed them. It’s an intention of self-respect and respect. You express your needs while being ready to listen to the others’.

The more you do it the better at it you will become.

Great points, both of them.

It often does take courage, indeed.

I'm now listening to a good book on assertion, the author says that a good signal of when you need to be assertive is resentment.
When you start resenting someone, it means you need to speak up.

But since resentment is a strong emotion, it does take detachment indeed to communicate while holding such strong emotions.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I'm now listening to a good book on assertion, the author says that a good signal of when you need to be assertive is resentment.

Exactly. It means we're keeping something inside that should be expressed. Assertion is a lot about emotional health.

Hi John,

I have stumbled across a recent great resource on assertion, review coming soon (will link it here), and it links how attachment styles influence assertiveness.

I am telling you because you also raised the issue of attachment style, and I uploaded a good overview of how the two interact here (second chart, must be logged in).

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
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