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My journey to assertiveness

I found the assertive communication books very solid for stopping people-pleasing mindsets.
Lucio's book Ultimate Power helps a lot as well.
Meditation also helps me stay centred emotionally.

Difficult conversations has been a book that really helped me to navigate challenging social conversations.
Because now when I don't really know how to approach a difficult conversation, I can at least basically go up to the person and say

This is probably going to be a difficult conversation.
I would like to talk about how we interpret

  • what actually happened,
  • our intentions, and
  • our emotions

The books that have helped me personally are

  • Ultimate Power
  • People Skills
  • The Power of a Positive No
  • Difficult Conversations
  • 8 Keys to Eliminating Passive-Aggressiveness
  • Radical Candor - this is a leadership book but really it helps in the mindsets of direct, honest communication
  • Start With Why - this helped me personally because, by prioritising your personal "Why"s, you naturally become less of a people-pleaser
    You give value back to people through your purpose and mission rather than as a source of validation
  • Selfish Gene - it helps me embrace my darker and more selfish tendencies (not so practical but it personally helped me)

Personally, I would really want to go through more of the assertiveness books that Lucio has shared:

  • The Assertiveness Workbook
  • The Assertiveness Guide for Women (Lucio reviews this to be good for me as well)
  • The Art of Everyday Assertiveness
  • Alpha Assertiveness Guide

For coming across as more assertive and confident, I am going for the executive demeanour in Power University.
Together with vocal training and practice.

Lucio Buffalmano and John Freeman have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoJohn Freeman
Quote from John Freeman on February 4, 2021, 6:44 am

About manipulation, I'm going to listen to "Who's pulling your strings" and "The Psychopath whisperer" first.

Any other book you would recommend on the topic? Or on stopping to be a people-pleaser?

I wouldn't necessarily recommend "The Psychopath Whisperer" since there are only a few gold nuggets related to manipulation (which you can get from the summary).


When it comes to manipulation the best overviews are:

  • Who's pulling your strings
  • Emotional blackmail
  • In sheep's clothing
  • The 48 laws of power

Most of the rest are more about golden nuggets and specific situations.
All helpful, but not to the point where you'll get a big bang for your time and effort to go through the whole book.

Matthew Whitewood and John Freeman have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodJohn Freeman
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thanks guys for your recommendations! Some of these I read, some not.

Hello guys, your feed-back was helpful.

1. Skills to prioritize

It helped me to realize that in order to beat manipulators, I first have to change myself before getting to know them better. So here is how I prioritzed the skills I will learn this year:

  1. Assertiveness: thanks to Matthew's feed-back and to this video. What makes Joe Rogan be respected is that he's assertive (watching videos about getting respected on CoC), for self-defense. (I added Radical Candor to my List)
  2. Manipulation (as in "defense against...."): know your enemy (and your dark shadow), for self-defense.
  3. Social skills: My main goal for this year. To connect with people and grow my social network in quality and quantity.
  4. Frame Control: for self-defense as well.

Of course, the foundation of all of the above is self-esteem and self-respect.

One month of 2021 has already passed so I I will prioritize this for the next year: acquiring those skills. I will focus less on having friends and doing stuff (short game) than learning those skills (long game).

2. Fears

That being said, I also identified 3 fears that are still preventing me from having the best social life:

  1. Fear of conflict
  2. Fear of abandonment
  3. Fear of rejection

Yes, these all stems from my past. And they all go to being rejected/abandoned. "If I fight I might be rejected from the group".

So I'm also looking for resources about these 3 topics. Any recommendations?

3. Good news

Finally, one more thing I want to share with you: I found a new apartment. So I'm going to move out in 2 months. I signed the contract and cancelled my current studio. I've been living in for a long time. I got it through a colleague who connected me to another colleague (did someone say "social skills"?).

So I'll be able to invite more people as it will be bigger. People will also enjoy it more because it's brand new. It's not huge but it's bigger. It's 3 times more expensive but it's worth it. This will improve my status among my friends as this flat will reflect more my current social status. So I will get more respect through my material resources (external layers I'm working on, remember?).


Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Rock on, John!

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Hello guys,

so I'm happy to share with you what I consider a great success on Saturday night.


This week-end was the birthday of one of my friend housemate Rodriguez (alias). However, nasty social climber Arthur (alias) would be there. And Rodriguez don't know yet that Arthur is a narcissistic and a manipulator. So I had to prepare.

Defense against micro-aggressions

I reviewed the micro-aggression lessons and I chose to train my mind to default to surfacing to his attacks. I knew alcohol was going to flow, I knew I was going to be taken off-guard so I had to prepare and self-program. I alsow wrote it down in my Notebook file on my smartphone in case I had to review it during the evening:

  • Surfacing: why are you saying that?
  • Show me the hand: what did you say?
  • Give them rope: what do you mean by that?

I also prepared:

  • Shame him: this is not how friends behave
  • Reframe it in a positive: "what do you have against pussy?"
  • Go meta: Hey man, when you call me like that, it feel like you're trying to one-up me or something like that. The first time it was funny, but said over and over I find it offensive.

All this above, credit to @lucio of course. What I did was to repeat the 3 sentences of surfacing in bolds in my head over and over again: "why are you saying that, why are you saying that, etc.", "what did you say, what did you say, what did you say". That's how I got the idea of making it an automatic defense mechanism. This is self-programation through repetition.


Then I used intentions, I set 4 intentions for this evening (self-programation through goal-setting):

  1. Improve my friendship with 4 chosen friends.
  2. Defend ALL micro-aggressions, especially all from Arthur
  3. Improve my social skills
  4. Have a lot of fun

This is a lot of intentions for 1 evening. Usually, I only set 1 or 2. But there would be Arthur, so I had to be ready. And yes, it works.


Then I used visualization. In the bus ride, I visualized myself during the evening where people would tell me: "you're such a great person, I'm happy to have you as a friend, etc." I also visualized myself countering all attacks from Arthur.

Note: all this is not magical, it's to program our minds for a course of action, to pre-activate neural pathways in a sense.


In summary:

Micro-aggressions: of course, Arthur had to attack. First attack was when I was playing a card game and I lost. Who comes out of nowhere to ask me how am I doing? Yes Arthur. He was so happy to see me lose he wanted to have his little moment of joy. Denied. "And you how are you?" (or something like that I'm not exactly sure what I said. That's how self-programmation works: it's automatic). Boom. He was gone in a second. That's the moment I realized how weak and coward he actually is. Then, in short he did the same a couple of other times during the evening. Each time I surfaced and he was going away. Like a cockroach crawling in the dark. I avoided him for the rest of the night and said good bye politely. Of course he did show Rodriguez he's such a cool friend to him. I watched him do his machiavellian stuff.

Of course, the girls told me: "Oh, that's you John, I heard you were a kind guy." Another: "Oh, is that you John? I heard about you".

The friends that I visualized having a closer friendship with: "Hey man, I want to tell you for me you're a real friend". "Hey man, I want to tell you I think you're so authentic."

They did not have planned a cake (not sure of my english here), so I brought 2 cakes with candles and we made Rodriguez a surprise where he blew up the candles after we turned off the lights. He was so proud that we treated him like that.

I also bought him a 50 euros check to go skiing and I gave him almost at the end of the night. I had forgotten I brought it. So I did not use this gift to shine. Nor the cake. I did it as a friend. He was so moved: he told me: "John, you're so generous". The next day he texted me: "thank you for your generosity and your energy: last man standing!" (I was one of the two survivors at the end of the night).

I took about 4 phone numbers: 2 girls and 2 guys that I will be inviting in the future. I met really great people that night. And I don't want to throw flowers at me but I will anyway: I was proud to bring positivity to this night.

The thing I'm the most proud of is how I defended against micro-aggressions. So this victory is our victory. Without your help guys I would have not gotten so far. So it's your success as well through your advice and support. I hope this story inspires you as well. This is just the beginning.

End of the story.

PS: Oh and yes, we had a blast. People were still sending videos of the karaoke this morning.

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That was awesome, the preparation might even become a "blueprint" for a successful social event.

Rock on, John! 🙂

John Freeman has reacted to this post.
John Freeman
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on February 10, 2021, 2:40 am


Hahaha, yes it's coming together. I'm happy things are turning my way.

That was awesome, the preparation might even become a "blueprint" for a successful social event.

Definitely! All I can say is that it works. I did it many times. What matters the most is to have the right programming.

Short interaction:

A female resident colleague speaks to me on an angry tone and give me a time limit: “You have 15 minutes to come”. Of course it’s for no reason. So I feel the anger and I come to her to tell her I did not appreciate her tone as n the phone. She tries to slip with some bullshit excuse. I say: “I’m talking about the tone” firmly and politely. Her: “I’m a bit tired excuse me”. Me: “It happens it’s forgiven”.

Lucio style: I’m addressing the form and not the content (as she tried to evade it). Then she could not escape. There was also one witness of her phone call. She heard me going assertive. So now they both know. Firm, polite and strong. A powerful stance. I also closed the frame Lucio style (it’s forgiven). Leader like.

Assertivity 1 Bitch 0


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Man, this couldn't have been any better.

Perfect, all the way through:

  • Mindset of not accepting shit behavior
  • Assertiveness to firmly address the poor behavior
  • Resolve to stay the course and hold frame until you see it until the end
  • Skills to go back to the main issue -the tone- without being sidetrack by the BS
  • Magnanimity and eagle attitude, to stop once the goal is reached, rather than raging on the person who has surrendered (kicking the downed enemy)
  • Strategic foresight for collaboration, in ending with a conciliatory tone, increasing the chances of future good relationships and win-win

Just too bad there is no "superlike" on the forum yet 🙂

Matthew Whitewood and John Freeman have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodJohn Freeman
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?