Saturday, 14 March 2009

Assertive Diplomacy.

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.


  1. Hi Gary,

    Excellent advice. Diplomacy in most situations can be much better than confrontation. Sometimes it is a matter of swallowing our pride with the understanding that what is most important is the final outcome of the situation. We may feel better with a good rant in the short run but the end will almost always be worse.

    I love the part about eye contact. If you can hold someone's eyes for even a short time the positive results are amazing. It can be uncomfortable at first but with a little practice, it works wonders.

    Namaste my friend.

  2. i concur totally, it sounds like i have much in common re;self respect/worth.i know how it feels to be constantly undermined, and any selfworth, destroyed[almost relentlessly]it is only now [in part ,due to meeting you]i am reeclaiming my self ,my creativity,self expression, and ability to communicate positively,my respect for you istotal,and you empathy heartfelt and true ,for this my gratitude istoo much to show ,i wish you real peace.

  3. Dear Gary,
    I remember one of the first things I was told by a counsellor when I was in the throes of depression, and that was that I "should have some self respect". I felt, at the time, that her remarks were uncalled for. I was, after all, suffering from an illness which would seem, by all accounts, to take away your self respect. Why should I be blamed for it, then, I wondered? Shouldn't such people be there to understand, not judge? But, all too often, it is up to ourselves to raise us out of that pit of despair, and the advice you offer in your blog is a good way of doing it.
    Yours with respect (self and other kinds)

  4. [" 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."]
    I often struggle yet I move on with hope, realising my transparency keeps me honest. Because I like the "core" me, self respect grows.
    Thank you for sharing the value, examples, and technique of "assertion diplomacy".

  5. Hi Roger,
    Thanks again for dropping by and leaving another positive interaction comment.
    Assertion can also be, as you say: "swallowing our pride". An amicable outcome, even if we disagree has got to better than a full blown rant and potential seething resentment. Tact and diplomacy, respecting the other person's opinion is most condusive to calm assertion.
    Thank you Roger. Peaceful blessings, my friend. Gary.

  6. Hi 'Anonymous',
    What lovely sentiments you have written.
    I know how much you have struggled with those who do not respect you and your opinion. With your own assertion, no matter what, you shall demonstrate that your class, your self-respect shines brightly.
    You know I respect and value your opinion. Stay strong and continue to embrace those that value your worth, your sincerity.
    Warm wishes, Gary.

  7. Dear David,
    Thank you kindly for your comment David.
    Yes it so true that it is up to us to raise ourselves up out of that "pit of despair". The sorry part of it is that, it can be the very people who should be there to cheer us on, spend more time passing judgement than trying to understand.
    Respect back at you David.
    Respectfully yours, Gary.

  8. Dear Dixie,
    Your transparency keeps you honest. That is most certainly true.
    You know that your opinion is valid. With clear, concise assertion, we can get acknowledgement for our concerns with most people. Those who would ignore us, will not fully appreciate how constructive interaction can be beneficial for all involved.
    Stay strong Dixie.

  9. hey

    great post

    hope all is going well for you, that you continue to love yourself and make sure you are receiving the respect you are entitled too...

    stay happy, keep blogging and take care

  10. Hi 'M.M.I.',
    Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment.
    All is going well with me thank you. I am a dude doing the best to live his life.
    I hope you are well. Please stay positive and keep smiling. My respect to you.
    Warm wishes, Gary :-)

  11. These are very wise words, Gary. I can appreciate your sense of equanimity in stressful situations...I admire it.(smile)

    Sometimes, what you offer is what you'll get in return. When your well-meaning wishes are expressed, then turned down, well, those people are not worth your time anyway. You can't please all the people all the time...but I think it is terrific that you make the effort to extend peace and kindness to others.

    Never let the actions of others bring you down. You are your own person, and you have your own inner strength that will see you through life situations. Hang onto that strength!

    Great blog...Stay strong, my friend.

    'Til next time,

  12. Hi Mattie,
    Very wise words from you.
    When our good intentions are dismissed as not worthy of acknowledgement; it is indeed best to not let it get us down.
    I am happy with who I am. Like you, my friend, I stay resilient, I grow in strength.
    Thank you very much for leaving a comment Mattie.
    Positive wishes, Gary.

  13. Hi Gary;
    I admit I too have those feelings of inadequacy when it comes to discourse and getting my point across however I have found a great satisfaction in the power of Not reacting. People all too often are waiting for you to jump around all excited so that they can justify what they're saying with how uncontrolled you are. Silence can be a great tool if used properly. Human beings just need to fill in the gaps. Well done my friend. We'll chat soon.

  14. Hi Gary,

    Agree with everything that's been said here - excellent with some very wise words of advice.



  15. Hi Heather,
    Thank you for taking the time to add your very thoughtful comment to this 'archived' blog.
    I know that you and I share a similar ethos. The power behind not reacting can be of great affect. Silence can most assuredly be 'golden'.
    Talk soon and take good care, Gary :)

  16. Hi Darren,
    Thank you also for responding to this 'archived' blog.
    From our ongoing positive interaction; I was quite confident that you would be able to identify with this posting.
    Cheers, Gary :-)


I do try to comment back to each commenter individually. However, I might have to shorten my replies or give a group thank you. That way, I can spend more time commenting on your blogs. Thank you and peace, my friend.