The natural response to conflict or danger is to react (flight or fight) which was fine when we lived in caves!
Instead of this we should choose the best response or attitude Our choices: Give yourself time / space to think Reframe the situation – i.e. try to see it differently Try different behaviour (assertion?)
The choice you make is critical to the outcome The attitudes that we adopt in any situation partly determine how the situation will unfold. Zohar & Marshall (1993)
Spectrum of behaviours
Group Exercise For the behaviour type your group has been asked to look at: Write a definition Discuss examples of words and body language associated with this behaviour type
Aggressive behaviour Standing up for your rights in a way violates the rights of others Ignoring or dismissing the needs, wants, opinions, feelings or beliefs of others Expressing your own needs, wants and opinions in inappropriate ways
Aggressive words Shut up Stupid Dont you ever listen What a nerve Because I said so Get on with it Youd better Come on I told you so
Submissive behaviour Failing to stand up for your rights or doing so in a way that others can easily disregard them Expressing your needs, wants, opinions, feelings or beliefs in apologetic or self effacing ways Failing to express honestly your own needs, wants beliefs and opinions
Submissive words Sorry Its only me Would you mind I could come back later Well its a bit awkward, but er….. I wonder Excuse me I guess Sorry to bother you
Assertive behaviour Standing up for your own rights in such a way that you do not violate another persons rights Expressing your needs, wants, opinions, feelings or beliefs in direct honest and appropriate ways
Assertive words I would like I think Lets consider the options Id like to hear your view What do you think about....? I can see that How can we resolve this?
Also Being clear about what you feel, what you need and how it can be achieved Being able to communicate calmly without attacking Saying yes when you want to, and saying no when you mean no Deciding on, and sticking to, clear boundaries Being happy to defend your position Being confident about handling conflict if it occurs Understanding how to negotiate if people want different outcomes Being able to listen to others Being able to give and receive positive and negative feedback
Handling difficult situations (1) Putting your point of view or suggestion across Use basic assertion You make a straightforward statement which makes clear your needs, wants, beliefs opinions or feelings or stands up for your rights by. e.g. I need to leave by 12 noon today. Keep it simple!
(2) Getting someone to open up Use responsive assertion You are aiming to find out where the other person stands, or what their needs, wants opinions and feelings are e.g. What would you prefer to do this evening? or What problems does the new system create for you?
(3) Softening the blow / increasing the chances of being heard Use empathetic assertion A statement that contains some empathy followed by a statement of your needs / wants. e.g.I can see youre busy at the moment John but Id just like to ask a quick question
(4) Taking the heat out / slowing things down Use fogging A way of slowing the other person down without agreeing or disagreeing with them. e.g. Thats a useful interpretation or That is certainly one way of looking at it
(5) Making sure you are heard / dealing with being cornered Use the instant replay technique A way of getting your message through without nagging or whining. The message is repeated or paraphrased until it can no longer be dismissed or ignored. e.g. I cant get the amendments done by 2 oclock…………. I cant do the amendments by 2 oclock but I could do it by 4 oclock…… As Ive already said I cant do the amendments by 2 oclock…..
(6) Dealing with people who dont do what they promise Use discrepancy assertion A statement that shows the other person has moved the goalposts. e.g. Mike, when we spoke last month, you said you would let me have your feedback more quickly, Im still keen for that to happen
(7) Dealing with insensitive people Use negative feelings assertion (I statements) A statement which shows another person the undesirable effect their behaviour is having on you. e.g. I feel that Im not being taken seriously / being heard I feel very concerned about the impact this change will have on quality of the end result It is really important to avoid generalisations and YOU statements e.g. You never take me seriously Youre taking no account of the impact this will have on the quality of the end result
(8) Finally as a last resort......! Use consequence assertion A statement that informs the other person of the consequences if the situation is not resolved. e.g. If I cant get the equipment I need, Ill have no option but to delay the project by 2 weeks / escalate this to the Head of School. Id rather we didnt get to that stage.
Weigh it up! What will I gain by being assertive? What will I lose by being assertive?
Different Perspectives (1) 2 people can look at the same situation or picture and see entirely different things Reframing
Different Perspectives (2)
Changing our attitude If my underlying assumption is: I am right, you are wrong I am well-intentioned You are misinformed You are acting on a selfish basis I need to persuade you to do what I know is right …..then conflict is likely to result
However - if I re-frame the situation……... What I see is just one perspective I may be missing something You may see something Ive missed You have good intentions (we can pretend you do even if its hard to spot!) Then conflict is less likely to arise or likely to be resolved more quickly
Other re-framing strategies If someone is being really difficult Try to see the situation through their eyes..... (e.g. Are they under pressure from someone else?) Imagine something unimaginably awful has happened to the person recently (it may not be true but it can help!)
For people who you find slightly scary! Imagine them doing something very normal like shopping Imagine them as an irritating fly or a child that wants an ice-cream – they cant really hurt you
Your action plan Choose a situation you want to be more assertive in Be clear what your goal is What would you normally do? What could you do differently? Weigh up pros and cons of being assertive Dont give up at the first hurdle Look for win/win compromise solutions
In summary Make the right choice to: Maximise the chance of you achieving the outcome you want Minimise negative / destructive conflict Maintain your self respect and your respect for others
Introduction to assertiveness Prepared by Suzanne Morton