How to grow your assertiveness, first step observation….


In my previous blog post, if you answered the 18 questions honestly, you will broadly know whether you tend towards assertiveness.  This is the first step in self-awareness.  The challenge now is to ‘take a look’ at yourself: observe and analyse the choices you make every day. Reflect by playing back in your mind how you were at different times of the day: your body language, how you communicated, your thoughts, how you felt, what emotions were present.  This type of self-observation gets you to a level of awareness of why you behave (or do not  behave) the way you do in different situations.  With the belief firmly in mind: we can only change ourselves not other people, how we think and behave can hinder or open up other people to be more themselves with us.  It affects their ability to be their true and authentic selves and we have the choice then as to whether we want to spend time with them or not, but at least we will get to experience them as they truly are. So, it is a win/win: a win for you because you have heightened self-awareness from where you can grow and develop your strengths and a win for them, because you are allowing them to be their true selves, ‘warts and all’. From that position, we can achieve so much more that is positive and life-affirming such as resolve conflict, increase confidence and self-esteem, dissolve anger and fear, influence and persuade, help and support: it is an enriching experience for all involved.

While observing yourself and your choices, take into account the following:

My Thinking and Beliefs:

Everyone else is inferior It’s not good to upset people People deserve respect
People should be more like me People will think badly of me We all live by different rules and all have rights
People should behave as I think they should People won’t  like me People and their behaviour are two different things
I win/you lose I lose/you win We both win

My voice:

Raised volume Weak voiced and Sighs Medium volume and pace
Rapid speech Hesitant speech Emphasis/inflection on key words
Tone of voice displaying instruction, sarcasm, criticism, ridicule …. Tone of voice undermines conviction Steady tone and pitch

My body language:

Finger wagging/pointing/jabbing and similar threatening, impatient gestures Hand-wringing, fidgeting, frequently shifting posture when under pressure Encouraging/attentive movements Gestures support words said
Extremes of facial expression Changing facial expression reflecting needs of other person Facial expression supports/encourages communication; otherwise empathetic/ attentive
Excessive eye contact Minimal eye contact Effective eye contact
Full open and ‘expansive’ posture ‘Shrinking’ and closed posture protective gestures Open posture and gestures
Comfortable distances not maintained Distance maintained from other person Comfortable distance according to circumstances

My words:

Should, ought and other authoritarian words used as instructions to others Frequent justifications and permission-seeking statements Factual rather than emotive/personal words
Generally dismissive of others Inconspicuous Attentive and Listening
Self-centred Quick to agree Displays genuine interest in others

My behaviour:

Critical of person, uses ‘put-downs’, sarcasm, ridicule, exaggeration, generalisations Criticises self Criticises behaviour not person
Rejects all critcism outright Takes criticism personally/as proof of self-depreciation Accepts valid criticism and learns from mistakes
Autocratic Self-put-downs Factual/rational
Suggestions/requests given as orders Rambling Authoritative
Abrupt Reluctant to get to the point States needs, feelings openly
Uses questions to threaten others; can bully Is indirect and vague, opts out often Questions effectively to seek understanding
Makes quick decisions in favour of self Avoids situations and decisions Makes informed balanced decisions
Allocates blame to others Hides true feelings, accepts blame, blames self Looks for solutions to benefit both parties

Anne Marie Crowley - Crowley Personal and Business Change

Take some precious time out of your busy schedule to do some self-observation and reflection, you won’t regret it.  In my next blog post I will share with you what you can do to change: the tips, tactics and approaches most favoured by the clients I have worked with in coaching and training workshops.

Take a look at yourself, and appreciate who you are.

Anne Marie

Anne Marie Crowley BA MSc Dip.Coaching, based in Cork Ireland, is a free-lance Coach and Trainer in the field of behavioural change for individuals and business. Anne Marie is the founder of Crowley Personal and Business Change.







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