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Speaking in an Assertive Manner so you can be heard!

After the dust has settled the emotions can still be high for many years; so how can you improve your communicaiton?

Speaking in an Assertive Manner so you can be heard!

To communicate well we all need to learn many micro skills that when all put together help us to be better communicators. Assertive communicaiton is one skill many of us have never learnt in our lives.

What is Assertive Behaviour?

- It is self-expressive; it expresses what one means, without dumping your anger on others or having intent to hurt others.

- It is honest and direct.

- It is self-enhancing and not hurtful to others. (The assertive person has no need to put him or herself down or to put others down).

- It gets across a message of feelings (requests, expressions of opinion), using several elements: eye contact, a pleasant, firm voice: good listening behaviour.

What is Aggressive Behaviour?

- It denies the rights of others.

- It puts others down, achieving goals at their expense.

- It is charged with emotion and a general lack of consideration for others.

What is Passive Behaviour?

- It denies self worth.

- It does not express honest feelings comfortably.

- It places unwanted burdens on others because of the individuals refusal to take responsibility.

What is Passive-Aggressive Behaviour?

- It manipulates others because it conceals real feelings. (For example, sarcasm that puts down someone else; in the guise of just kidding does not state one's own feelings directly and honestly)

- It causes guilt in another by manipulating emotional responses. (For example, statements like: You go ahead and have a good time.  I'l just sit here alone.  I don't mind.  I'm always alone anyway - very often enables one to get what one wants but at the expense of good feelings between the two parties involved.)

©   McMahon: www.conflictresolutionbooks.com.au        ISBN 1-920904-00X

Understanding Aggressive, Passive, Assertive Behaviour

Aggressive:

If fight is a frequent response, ask what do you know about the aggressor:

- Why do they need to be in control?

- How do they feel if they find out they're wrong?

- Do they make themselves feel good by trying to prove that they are better than others?

- Do they believe everyone should have the same values as them?

- How could I get them to question some of their opinions?

- What outcomes do they normally achieve through aggression?

Passive:

If flight is a frequent response, ask what do you know about the person?

- Do they really think I don't know that they are upset?

- Is their withdrawing used as a weapon or does it show lack of communication skills and confidence?

- Are they passive because of fear, habit, or anger?

- Do they believe their feelings and opinions are as important as others?

- Are they frightened of other people's anger, or of damaging the relationship?

- What outcomes do they normally achieve through passiveness?

Assertive:

If flow is the way you would like people to respond, how could you encourage them to:

- Acknowledge their needs and rights.

- Model assertive skills

- Increase their awareness of the needs and rights of others.

- Improve their skills in explaining more clearly what they need and listening for others rights and needs.

© Adapted Conflict Resolution 12 Skills manual.

© McMahon: www.conflictresolutionbooks.com.au        ISBN -920904-00X


Learn the Language of Assertiveness

Many people are resistant to the language of assertiveness; they feel it is awkward and contrived. This is because it is a new skill. When you first started to drive a motor car you felt awkward and unskilled, it took time to be unconsciously skilled at driving a car in just the same way it takes practice to be able to use the language of assertiveness. This is a formula, when you know it you play with it as it can be said in any order. When we don't really want to change our behaviour or communication we will often find an excuse why I am unwilling to try the language of assertiveness.

Aims:

- To communicate clearly and cleanly my perception of and feelings about a problem without attacking, blaming or hurting the other person.

- To open a discussion without eliciting defensiveness from the other person.

Example

The action: Objective description: When (don't use You) When our communication is not working
My response: No blame I feel angry

or I feel like hanging up the phone
My preferred outcome: no demand And what I would like is that we both stop, take turns speaking and listening to each other.

Depending on the response of the other person, I will choose an appropriate next action.  It may be to make another statement, to active listen, to start discussing the problem in more detail or…..

©  McMahon:  www.conflictresolutionbooks.com.au        ISBN 1-920904-00X

This is just a beginning to learn the skill of assertiveness. We may need at times to move to a 'confrontational consequential statement'; but we do not start with these types of statements they are the next step! For another post!
I think the above is very helpful. Perhaps some examples with the same communication intent, but in the various styles would be helpful.

Some discussion on an aggressive repsonse to assertvie behaviour would be useful also.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
I have to admit during my life I have touch on many things listed but not to the extent of obsession.

During my marriage in an attempt to be heard I tried many variations of communication knowingly.

After a while and many failed attempts the closest I managed was a limited positive change for a limited time.

I discovered that the person I had married was not the person she protested to be, after marriage conflict became worse.

To point at the end I would simply end up mirroring her attack, she talked I talked. She shouted I shouted, She escalated I escalated.

Now I openly admit to this but the difference was the intensity of the words used to hurt, insult, degrade and attack.

Although I did not stoop to this form of verbal abuse and swearing I had a great disdain for what I had become in such a short time.

Shortly after separation I reverted back to dealing with things as I had before marriage just very much more damaged and licking some deep wounds.

I learnt how to recognize and diffuse triggers that had been set in me during the marriage, how to be proactive instead of reactive and how to respond assertively.

I am still learning 4 years down the track and thanks to articles like the above I still have an opportunity to progress.

This not only helped in dealing with an X but also in public and Family Court issues.

When you act reactively in Family Law issues an injustice has been committed by yourself on yourself and is noted by those empowered in the system, so there is more than just one aspect that can benefit here.
Interesting topic.

I value the emotional display because to do less would deny our humanity - its about how and where emotions are displayed.

There is always the argument on "rights" whether someone has the right to display emotion if it affects others around them.

The extreme examples of a managed communication style is the façade - a non person. There are some people who are teflon like - neither reflecting anything or allowing anything to stick and be an issue.

Overly managing communication can be non human  and can lead to distrust.

At professional levels the latest models I have observed are:

1) Well developed emotional façade - engaging  - with a strong hidden introvert underneath pulling the strings

2) Professional communication façade - unknown underneath

3) All out there personality - with little underneath

1 & 2 seem to be the growing models - influenced mainly fro imported models from Japan, USA and other countries.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
I have at one point used the Teflon approach to achieve self preservation, I had a need to communicate but at the time was heavily effected by anxiety and depression, the person concerned knew this and was using it to their advantage. I needed a shield so adopted mono tone communication and did not react to their emotional out burst and abuse.

This approach continued for a year before they stopped using this method of abuse which included baiting me using the mono tone expression as another point of attack.

At times communications needs to be over managed to disarm a situation, no doubt some will find this approach difficult because it raises fears in them because they subconsciously relate to why they would use this form of communication and what would they personally do this for. Simply put they transfer their own guilt and fears into the void rather than accept simply. humans love to distrust.

Of course this is just opinion and perception.

I also do not disagree that emotional display is an important part of culture but we have grown into a restricted social tribe that has laws, there are many forms of these tribes on earth and there are variations of laws.

These laws encourage restraint of emotional outbursts and a semi compliance with the social structure. Communication is managed. Social awareness manages it more and self restraint further.

Most times we all communicate on a very impressive level and there are no problems, we even communicate with people that we do not like or trust in a compliant manner, because we are sensitive to the social nature of humanity, this would engage a false state of well being in that person and a denial of the truth very much like number two but when you attack that person to others expressing an unfounded opinion it becomes like number one but if you comply no preconceived idea about them then it's like number three.

Perhaps all these already exist but have not been defined in the way you reflect as refined for professional levels of communication.

It's a balance as to how much emotion is too much especially when it comes to the lines drawn for abuse, I reflected on the X a couple of time that she was being abusive and her come back was " No I'm being emotional " if I responded with the same emotion I would be considered abusive in her eye's because I am a man and a more imposing figure. I chose to try and remove myself from the conflict when it became sever only to be pursued in an attempt to continue the " discussion " (abuse).

I value the display but wonder where the lines are drawn?

By the way I reflect on personal situations as an example to express how it fitted in to my life, others may also share by example and we can all open our minds and hearts a little more to each other.
My ex always talks to me in a nice, pleasant, quiet voice. I have asked him to do this and he has complied. It has helped somewhat.

Unfortunately, he now thinks that he can say whatever venomous thing he likes, as long as it is delivered in a pleasant, friendly voice.

For example, I think all the problems (we are in the process of diagnosing ADD behaviours) we are having with [youngest son] is because you do not have any discipline at your house. You don't sit at the dinner table every night to have dinner. You're too soft on him.

There is no quicker way to push my buttons than to accuse me of bad parenting! No matter how nice a voice you put on.

There are other instances where he has said some very vile stuff in a pleasant voice.

The upshot of this is that communication is about tone and content.

Now, if I can get him to focus on content….

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Artemis said
I think the above is very helpful. Perhaps some examples with the same communication intent, but in the various styles would be helpful.

Some discussion on an aggressive response to assertive behaviour would be useful also.
Assertive Communication

When we start to closely examine patterns of assertive, passive or aggressive behaviour we can actually see many variations of how people communicate in each of these areas. The following is only a guide, recognising it is hard to simplify complex communication patterns into a simple 4 style model because of the diverse style compositions and choices when responding in a conflict situation.

There are however patterns that can be seen when we step back and take the time to observe how people are really communicating. It is also important to realise that the more educated a person and in control of their emotions that often the games of communication can become even more complex and difficult at first to recognise.

We need also to realise that what one person considers to be assertive is in fact to a quiet reserved person experienced as aggression. Usually it is not just the words that are used but tone, body language, intention and other variables.

When we build rapport we learn to be able to go into other peoples processing even when it is not our style. The skilled communicator can change style as they need to and be appropriately assertive.

Refer to Personality Styles under Behaviour Management - Foundations etc; for more information on styles.

Harmoniser

- Can be the most passive aggressive of 4 styles

- Need to learn to be assertive

- Need to learn to say no and mean it

- Doesn't like strong assertive language directed at them, can interpret as aggressive

- Can retaliate or get revenge but normally non assertive; tend to move into shutting down communication and relationship as their form of retaliation.

- Retaliation can be by communicating with others who will be assertive or aggressive  for them

Adventurer

- Depending on second style can be controlled or manipulating in their aggression.

- Depending on second style can be either aggressive or passive aggressive.

- Passive aggressive can be by being friendly directly but manipulating or using very subtle sarcasm or cynicism.

- Need to really listen to others needs as often trying to be centre of attention.

- If aggressive can use language in a colourful and over the top verbose manner; sarcasm or cynicism or emotional drama as aggression.

- Their aggression sometimes does not appear to be aggressive as they can use their charm to get their way.

- Emotional outburst can also be a method of being aggressive.

Responsible

- Aggression can become very cold, unemotional and calculating.

- Often will become pedantic and challenge with facts and details.

- Aggression can be putting down genuine emotion of others and making them wrong when they expressing healthy emotion.

- Need to learn to be sensitive to feelings and listen for what feelings are telling them; need to move away form judgement.

- If second style harmoniser can be passive aggressive and if achiever can be aggressive through controlling the communication.

Achiever

- Potentially the most aggressive of the 4 styles because of their initial reaction of anger. Normally very direct, blunt or abrasive.

- Can be dominating through language or raised voice and force of what they have to say.

- Because they are very quick thinkers on their feet can respond 'crushingly' without giving thought to hurting or dominating others.

- Need to learn to listen and be sensitive to others feelings. Need to learn to moderate their assertiveness so quieter people can hear them and not be overwhelmed by the intensity of their feelings.

When we respond to aggressive behaviour we can learn to be able to not engage with what ever the other person is doing that is inappropriate. It is like the emotion goes over your shoulder. Just briefly what you learn is to 'centre' through breathing very deeply into your stomach; when you learn to do this you do not need to fight or flee. Centring can be learnt as a technique but takes practice. More on this at a later time!

When your emotion comes up, which is appropriate, it just tells you are still working on your own often 'hidden' emotional stuff. About 90% of emotions are held in the subconscious and are activated by others behaviours.
D4E said
I have to admit during my life I have touch on many things listed but not to the extent of obsession.

During my marriage in an attempt to be heard I tried many variations of communication knowingly.

After a while and many failed attempts the closest I managed was a limited positive change for a limited time.

I discovered that the person I had married was not the person she protested to be, after marriage conflict became worse.

To point at the end I would simply end up mirroring her attack, she talked I talked. She shouted I shouted, She escalated I escalated.

Now I openly admit to this but the difference was the intensity of the words used to hurt, insult, degrade and attack.

Although I did not stoop to this form of verbal abuse and swearing I had a great disdain for what I had become in such a short time.

Shortly after separation I reverted back to dealing with things as I had before marriage just very much more damaged and licking some deep wounds.

I learnt how to recognize and diffuse triggers that had been set in me during the marriage, how to be proactive instead of reactive and how to respond assertively.

I am still learning 4 years down the track and thanks to articles like the above I still have an opportunity to progress.

This not only helped in dealing with an X but also in public and Family Court issues.

When you act reactively in Family Law issues an injustice has been committed by yourself on yourself and is noted by those empowered in the system, so there is more than just one aspect that can benefit here.
Thank you for sharing such an honest understanding of your own journey D4E.

I started 30 years ago, in the work of conflict resolution, communication skills and personal development because of my own divorce now 30 years ago.

I was lucky as I spent a lot of time learning about myself and how to communicate from two very good organisations - this learning helped me to move on faster then I would have if I had to learn the hard way through the daily contact with an ex when I was stuck in my own emotional 'stuff'.
One of my hobby horses is getting men to be assertive when women are being aggressive or abusive. I think assertiveness is a skill which everyone should continue to develop. Features of it which I like are:

1) Honest

2) Immediate

3) Communicative

4) Sometimes enlightening

5) Can defuse abuse (sometimes) or other non productive communication.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
Jon Pearson said
Interesting topic.

I value the emotional display because to do less would deny our humanity - its about how and where emotions are displayed.

There is always the argument on "rights" whether someone has the right to display emotion if it affects others around them.

The extreme examples of a managed communication style is the façade - a non person. There are some people who are teflon like - neither reflecting anything or allowing anything to stick and be an issue.

Overly managing communication can be non human  and can lead to distrust.

At professional levels the latest models I have observed are:

1) Well developed emotional façade - engaging  - with a strong hidden introvert underneath pulling the strings

2) Professional communication façade - unknown underneath

3) All out there personality - with little underneath

1 & 2 seem to be the growing models - influenced mainly fro imported models from Japan, USA and other countries.
There is an increase in learning more constructive ways of communicating. It is not about being dishonest about your emotions; it about being able to express them so they can be heard and are not used to dominate, intimidate, control or simply dump on to someone else what you are not handling within yourself.

The majority of intense emotions are held in the subconscious and are triggered by a present situation but can be intensified because of our own history.

In Jungian psychology this is called projection which I will write on at a later time.

When our emotions are intense and do not fit the situation then we know we are into our own unresolved history.
D4E. Thank you for your insights; really good to reflect on.

When we are children we really have little training in understanding emotions and families have all sorts of messages about emotions. Such as you are not good if you are angry; the problem is that this is a natural response by the Achiever personality style. When they suppress it it becomes a burning resentment that can fester and destroy marriages.

Knowing how to express emotions appropriately is the key; also knowing if the intensity for the emotion is from our past not present is important.

In anger management courses I conduct I do not make any one wrong for having emotion; it is learning why we have it and how to defuse it safely sometimes before we talk to someone so we don't dump. Even in offices we have emotional dumpers who feel better when they have let it all out on unsuspecting people but what damage they do.

Children who have emotions like anger dumped on them learn to be anxious and are not sure when the person will next lose it. You can easily see it in their body language.

I will at a later time write on emotions.
Artemis.

Yes people can say the most vile things in a quiet voice.

You will get to a point that you will totally know it is his problem and you will have no emotional response; that is when you have handled your own needs.

With ADD I am personally concerned at the number of children being diagnosed.

Personally I have been with parents with diagnosed ADD children before they have been given drugs and it has been obvious it has been a behaviour problem.

A judge about a month AGO came out and stated he was concerned at the 18-21 year olds he had in court for criminal activities who had been on Ritalin and now on stronger drugs.  He was told he had to withdraw his remarks. He was asking the medical profession to look into the problem.

Just make sure it is ADD and not a developmental stage or a behaviour issue; they often can look the same as ADD.
Thanks for your concern and the information Sage. My son is going to a peadiatrician and a psychologist for confirmation. I will be guided by expert opinion.

His behaviour at either home, is age appropriate. His behaviour at school is not good, because he has a learning difficulty.

I think it's behavioural, stemming from this. There are just some hoops to jump through for school.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
You have been kept very busy sage and I have to admit the variation on the subject has encourage many responses from yourself to each individual.

In this scenario it is easy to see just how far the strain of society has on communication and integration.

You are doing a wonderful job of explaining the directions we are taking.

The one thing that remains common is the dedication given by all participating to improve their situation and this will make the difference to themselves and their families top subject and top posts.
 
D4E.

At the time of separation and immediately afterwards is it not uncommon for one or both people to experience extreme stress; anxiety and depression. A separation can affect a person at the deepest ego level and challenge many very powerful belief systems. eg. Children need both parents or it is a failure to be divorced.

It is extremely important if you are suffering any of these affects that you receive medical or counselling assistance. It is an opportunity to move forward and it is at the point of crisis that we can learn the most and change for the better.

A partner that takes advantage of an x partner when they know they are depressed, anxious and boarding on break down because of stress are indicating that they are not coming from a place of respect but they also need help because they cannot handle the situation in an appropriate manner. The malice of these actions also comes from pain, loss of control, power or attention but it has come out in attack.

It is sad that some people feel they are justified in destroying someone when they are at their most vulnerable. For the vulnerable person getting support is essential for you to find your strength to be able to handle an abusive situation in the most appropriate manner for your well being.

Over time you will get stronger and be able to learn skills to deal with abuse. It is at this point that support is essential; sometimes some people see it as a weakness to go to a counsellor or doctor; it is sensible because you are helping the situation and your children by becoming strong and eventually assertive.

You know you need to seek professional help when you are stressed, depressed or abusive and out of control emotionally. If you want to extend your conflict pretend everything is OK when really it is not!
As someone who has been able to access the support mechanism of counseling as well as diagnosed with clinical depression I couldn't agree more with your advice.

It is not a quick path and I have to admit at times you do go backwards but at least now after separation I can go forwards again.
Artemis said
Thanks for your concern and the information Sage. My son is going to a paediatrician and a psychologist for confirmation. I will be guided by expert opinion.

His behaviour at either home, is age appropriate. His behaviour at school is not good, because he has a learning difficulty.

I think it's behavioural, stemming from this. There are just some hoops to jump through for school.
When you are sure your experts are giving sufficient time to the problem you will be comfortable; and I know many medical professionals are extremely good and will not jump to drugs.

I had a case recently where the paediatrician, with a very good reputation saw the parent for about 15 minutes and based his diagnosis of ADD on the very extensive report of the teacher. I know from other sources that the teacher struggles with behaviour issues. The child was totally inappropriate; 5 years old; never been away from home; could not sit and listen, interrupted continually and after observation of behaviour management techniques from single parent could see that the child would change if given some behaviour management techniques.

The parent was struggling and main response was to yell loudly when the child needed to be corrected. This child had learnt; 'I only respond when I am yelled at"; hard for a soft nurturing, non assertive teacher. In primary school over 50% of teachers come form the Harmoniser personality style and their main learning is to be assertive and firm!

For learning difficulties you may also like to look up neurodevelopment therapy; it looks at primary reflexes that have not been inhibited and can cause things like; inability to read the board because they can't track; can't sit still' can't hold a pen etc. Very hard to find people who have real depth of knowledge in this area though OT's have the basics.
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