Thursday 11 September 2014


"John, he's not assertive, just bloody rude!" Was the response to what I thought was a pretty neutral question to a manager about a team-member about who we had been approached with a view to helping him to "moderate his style".
Assertiveness. The subject of training programmes, coaching interventions and one-to-one conversations with a sad truth attached to it. The necessary amount is often context specific and power related.

So, what do we do about getting off the fence and understanding something about assertiveness and its relationship with how we feel about others and how we feel about ourselves, how do we exercise some control over our messages and for supervisors and managers who encourage their team-members to participate in assertiveness programmes? Do they in turn need to be careful what they wish for? 

Individuals who overplay their assertiveness are hard work and they need to understand that as with any "overplayed strength", it can end up hurting you. It's tough to face up to the fact that your "clarity and purpose and willingness to challenge," can be easily (and yes, sometimes deliberately and cynically) misinterpreted

And for the non-assertive? I sometimes ask "Who told you that it's not okay to express yourself and to ask to be treated with dignity: who said "You don't matter and neither does your opinion? Who told you that you should "Shut up and get on with it without ever expecting to be heard?"

There's a good chance that at either end of the spectrum, there's something damaging happening, either to the person concerned, their colleagues, their families. Our work in Coaching and Mediation is varied and interesting with each person's story generating fascinating, sometimes challenging and occasionally distressing insights as we strive to "meet our clients where they are." Part of our processes enable them to understand the power they can give themselves by trying strategies that allow them consider alternative ways of doing things, of managing their interactions. This sometimes requires a "Fake it till you make it." approach. We ask them to "notice what's changing" when so doing.

Interestingly, the word "Confidence" starts to appear! It's a challenge and we'll be developing this theme over the next few posts. In the meantime, feel free to contact us should you wish to talk about this or any of our other services shown on our website


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