Assertive communication I

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The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives, Anthony Robbins.

Assertiveness is not what you do, it's who you are! Shakti Gawain.

We need an assertive style so that effective interpersonal communication may take place. It is the middle path between aggressive and passive behavior. It is "a form of behaviour characterized by a confident declaration or affirmation of a statement without the need of proof; this affirms the person's rights or point of view without either aggressively threatening the rights of another (assuming a position of dominance) or submissively permitting another to ignore or deny one's rights or point of view," Dorland's Medical Dictionary.

It is about feeling free to express our thoughts and ideas. It is about being able to control anger, communicate effectively with others, compromise (it is not always possible to have things our own way), and maintain deep and meaningful relationships.


How to be assertive?

There is a story that fits in with this like a glove. There was a young man who, quite unknowingly, entered a cloistered convent. He was very surprised when he was told that no-one was ever allowed to talk about anything at all. Just pray and work ("ora et labora") except on patron's day when everyone was allowed to express their views and experiences taking turns in a large assembly.


Our friend prayed for long hours and worked very hard, day after day until the patron's day arrived. Father Prior began the meeting by saying: "Blessed be the Lord." After him, the most senior monk stated: "We must glorify, praise, and give thanks to the Lord our God." The third monk was also pretty brief: "Praise his holy name!" and thus, under the watchful and incredulous eyes of the young man, all monks delivered their speeches in similar terms. Finally, when his turn came, he just said: "The food is crap."

Then, another year of silence, work, and pray passed by. The big day arrived, and yet again Father Prior affirmed: "Blessed be the Lord." After him, the most senior monk added: "Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God." And so on, and so forth. The young man was really annoyed because nobody was saying anything about practical matters. When finally he could talk, he exclaimed: "The beds are really uncomfortable! I can't sleep well at night."

You guessed it! Another year of silence, work, and pray passed by. As usual, the meeting started with Father Prior speech: "Blessed be the Lord." The rest of the monks all followed the same script, they praised and thanked the Lord for his goodness and mercy. The young man could not grasp why nobody was talking about normal stuff, such as food, accommodation, and work. So he announced his resignation: "I'm leaving now!" But this time, someone else replied to him: "I'm glad because you have not stopped protesting since you have been here!"

The moral is clear: Our days are numbered. We need to be happy with what we have, who we are, and where we are in life. If you are constantly complaining about everything, people will label you as a difficult or grumpy guy, and therefore, your chances of getting anything done or moving forward will be quite small even though you may be right.

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Author: Anawim

I am a social activist. I have two Bachelor's degrees, Maths and Computer & Software Engineering. I also have a Ph.D. in Psychology. I have written nine published books, four scientific articles, and five scientific presentations. I simply want to contribute to making a difference where it counts, so that we make the world a better, more sustainable, prosperous, and fairer place. I am always willing to give free talks and lectures about the social problems that exist in our world today.

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