If you have been conditioned to believe that your opinion, your concerns, have little or no validity, you may find using assertion skills to be a most daunting proposition. For if your self esteem has taken relentless battering, the very idea of expressing yourself in an assertive manner, may challenge the uncomfortable comfort zone you have placed yourself in.
After many years of feeling worthless, more years than I care to remember, I managed, somehow, to find within me the ability to realise that my right to expression, was an ability to be nurtured. So I had a choice. Would I let the perpertrators continue to undermine me? Would I go back under the duvet and believe those who dismissed me as irrelevant, were right in ignoring my humanity? I could not allow this to happen any longer. I discovered my self-respect.
In times of rather unfortunate disagreement, I maintain my composure. I have learnt assertive diplomacy. With this newly found confidence, I may have been tempted to sway from assertion to potential aggression Allow me to give you a 'real time' example. Right now, my son is in his room with his somewhat loud friends. Because I want to do this blog without distraction, I have put on headphones. So to the gentle tones of 'Little River Band', I continue to type away. However, someone is on a mobile phone. I'm getting awful buzzing feedback. I will be right back....
Okay then, I had three ways of sorting out the annoyance that is coming through my headphones. 1: I could have tried to ignore the noise and get on with it. 2: I could have become aggressive. 'Knock! knock!' "Hey you 'effin pond life...get off that bloody mobile phone..I'm trying to do my blog and even with the headphones on, you guys, who make a dirt-eating worm seem like Albert 'effin Einstein, are still invading my space!...turn off that mobile before I shove it somewhere that will make the sound rather muffled! Do you understand!?" 3: Practice assertive diplomacy. "Excuse me gentleman, I am trying to do a blog but I am getting distortion through my headphones. Would you be so kind as to finish your call fairly soon? Thank you."
Now I most definitely do not recommend option 2. Aggression, using statements starting with 'you', can cause the other person to feel the need to retaliate with equal verbal aggression. This is most unconstructive. If, however, we use assertion with statements that use the pronoun 'I', then we take responsibility, indeed ownership of our actions. This way, ideally, we can have positive interaction displayed in a cool, calm and assured way.
Assertive diplomacy can have any number of the following elements. Verbal communication, with a dash of charm and humour, should be stated in such a way that minimises confusion. We have to practice active listening. If we are to get our point across, we must appreciate that communication is a two-way process. Our 'body language' also plays a vital part in any interaction. This non-verbal form of communication, the gestures we use, conveys a great deal of what we are trying to express.
If we can incorporate good eye contact, maintain a relaxed body posture, use a clear voice and tone, we can, in most circumstances realise that assertion pays dividends. It is just a matter of challenging anxiety and knowing, no matter the outcome, we have reinforced our dignity, our self-respect.
My positive journey continues. May your own positive journey continue to grow in strength.