Visit my Facebook page

I post on this blog about twice a month. I post on my facebook page several times a week with tips, appropriate quotes and ways to support your increased assertive behavior. Please visit my facebook page (and please "like" it, if you do)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Taking a Stand

When an ice storm hits Atlanta, trees fall. 

Unlike many large metropolitan areas, Atlanta is filled with tall pines, old oaks, and streets lined with dogwoods.  An ice storm takes a heavy toll on the trees in every part of the city.

In our last ice storm several years ago, a tall pine near the entrance to my neighborhood cracked about three feet from the ground.  As it fell, the top of the tree caught on a small branch from an adjacent tree, leaving the pine leaning precariously toward the street at a forty-five degree angle.

I watched the tree, a huge gaping crack in its trunk, held up by a tiny branch, for three years, waiting for it to fall into the street.  I had so little belief in the tree’s ability to stay balanced on that branch that I drove in and out of my neighborhood by a different way.

In spite of the appearance of weakness and instability, the tree remained standing for three years.  Finally this year, the neighbor on whose property the tree had grown cut the tree down. 

I was greatly relieved.

Although the tree was an obvious presence, I had little confidence in its capacity to maintain its angled stance.  I did not trust its ability to hold its own.  I avoided it.

When people make assertive statements, but present a weak or off-balanced appearance, the listener is likely to disregard the power of the statement.  Just like the tottering pine, a person who is not standing on his/her two feet will look less effective and less able to maintain his/her position.

You’ve seen public speakers who, because they are nervous, shift back and forth from one foot to the other.  Their movements are distracting and disconcerting.  Sometimes I find I am watching the motion rather than listening to the speech.

“Don’t fidget,” Richard Gere admonishes Julia Roberts in the movie Pretty Woman.  While he is trying to make her look like a lady, he also is trying to help her maintain a positive presence. 

Try to become a keen observer of yourself.  Do you fidget? Are there habits such as playing with your hair or swaying back and forth that you use during stressful communication? Do you betray your fear of speaking up through your nonverbal indicators?

Nonverbal assertiveness is a powerful tool.  The words that you say are empowered or diminished by how you handle yourself physically.

When you are speaking, plant yourself firmly on both feet.  If you are seated, uncross your legs and put both feet flat on the ground.  Not only will you look more solid in your stance, but also your words will seem more powerful both to you and the listener.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Crocs and the Power of Writing a Letter

Writing letters (or in today's world, sending an email) can be very powerful.  Sending your thoughts to another person can serve many purposes.  Sometimes we want to effect a change, sometimes we want to give feedback, and sometimes we just want to vent.

I ordered a new pair of Crocs from Zappos.  The pair I've used has been around for about four or five years.  The toes are scuffed, but they have continued to serve their purpose - I wear them for gardening and house shoes - they are quick to slip into to take the dogs out first thing in the morning.

A few weeks ago my Crocs disappeared.  I looked in every closet.  I live in a tiny house and I looked in every room.  I had a memory of sitting somewhere to take them off and exchange them for the "real" shoes I was going to wear but for the life of me, I couldn't remember where I was sitting.  I looked everywhere.  I surmised either that I had left them by accident in the mountains a couple of weeks ago or that I had set them on an unlikely shelf that had not yet gotten my attention.

I do love them even though when I went to the beach several years ago with my nephew, I asked him if I looked cool enough in my new sunglasses to go to the beach with him.  "Well, Aunt Linda," he said in a matter of fact way, "The sunglasses are cool, but lose the Crocs."

Now I have succeeded in losing the Crocs and despite their uncoolness, according to Avery, I miss them.

So I went online to Zappos where I have ordered many a pair of shoes, found the basic navy Crocs I wanted, pushed the necessary buttons, shared the necessary PayPal information and ordered a new pair.  The very next day, the Crocs were sitting on my doorstep when I arrived home.

I opened the box to find that the Crocs waiting beneath the cardboard were not what I had ordered at all.  They were Black and Grey rather than Navy and not only that, they were a different style of Croc as opposed to basic Crocs which I had wanted.

I sent an email to Zappos:
I ordered classic crocs in navy - xxxxxxxxx is my order number.  My shoes arrived yesterday and I'll keep them but they are not what I ordered.  I ordered navy classic crocs and I received black crocs - I believe this is the shoe I received:
 Crocs Yukon sport in black/graphite.

They fit and will serve the purpose - I only use crocs as hangout in the house shoes, but your robot picked up the wrong box in selecting my order.

 I've ordered from you many times and this is the first time I've been disappointed.

 Linda T


I had seen a Wired article about the Bots that collect shoes on order from Zappos so I was amazed that I was the recipient of a failed "bot."  They report almost no failures now that Kiva is serving their fulfillment needs.

Here's the response I got from Zappos within 48 hours of my email as their customer service center had promised:

Hello Linda,

Thank You for contacting the Customer Loyalty Team. I hope this email finds you well!

I am so sorry to hear you received the wrong color Crocs (not to mention the wrong style). Since I am not a big fan of disappointing our awesome customers such as yourself I am going to send you a free replacement pair of Crocs in the correct style that you originally ordered. Your new order for the Navy Classic Crocs will arrive on Wednesday. Don't worry, there is no need to return the original pair of Crocs, you can keep them as a backup pair. You were not charged for the replacement order, I simply transferred your funds over to the new one.

To ensure you get the correct shoe this time, I have transmitted a message to our Warehouse-Bots to double check your order before it is shipped out.

In the meantime, I have also upgraded your account to VIP! This is completely free and entitles you to next business day shipping, expedited returns, and other perks. Be on the lookout for a separate VIP email for more information!

If you need any further assistance, please let us know! We are here 24/7 for the early birds, night owls, and everyone in-between. Have a great weekend!

Your Friendly Zapponian,
Jason C.
Zappos Customer Loyalty Team


My email was intended to allow me to vent.  I expected nothing else - but now I will have a navy pair of classic Crocs which was my original wish.  

And today my granddaughter found my old Crocs under a piece of furniture that was easier for her to look under at 2 1/2 than for me!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Assertiveness and the Sound of Silence

Sometimes the sound of silence is more effective than uttering a single word. Silence can actually be quite loud in an assertive interaction.

Silence to employ a good listening technique 

First silence can be an indication that you are listening. After a moment of silence, it is often helpful to reiterate what you heard the other person say. Then that person knows you were listening and that you understood what they said.

 Simon and Garfunkel comment in their song about “people hearing without listening” which is what many people do. Once I had a conversation with my youngest daughter, Valerie, who was then in high school. She looked attentive and nodded her head at whatever I was requesting that she do going forward. Then the next day she did exactly the opposite of what I said the day before.

 I was confused. “But Valerie, I don't understand why you did that.  I talked to you about this very thing yesterday.”

 “Oh, Mom,” she said, “That was because I looked like I was listening, but I wasn’t really listening.”

 One important value of silence in an assertive interaction is that you can actually listen and put together what you have heard in the silence before affirming your understanding by repeating it for the other person.

Silence to offer respect to the other person

Often in conversation, I imagine you find yourself thinking of what you want to say next.  You may plan the whole conversation in your head, all the while nodding and smiling at the other person.

Or you may interrupt because you are so eager to get your two cents in that you just can't wait for him/her to finish the sentence or the thought.

Waiting (and listening) in silence is much more respectful of the other person and indicates that you value his/her contribution to the topic.

Silence to avoid taking in an insult

Silence can also be quite powerful when you are speaking with someone who is treating you without respect. Silence then serves to indicate that you are not going to allow someone to poke you or at least that you will not give them the satisfaction of knowing that they have struck a blow.

 For example if someone insults you: “I don’t know why I expected YOU to get it right. After all every time I assign a task to someone at your level, it gets completely botched up.”

Why honor the insult with a response (indicating to the bully that he/she has damaged you)?  Instead, simply take charge of the conversation by beginning a new topic.

You respond with nothing....complete silence and no change of facial expression....and then change the subject.

Silence to give power to the punch line

At the office, Sam makes a request of his associate, Rudy.  "Rudy, I want us to meet our goal by the end of the week.  Both of our evaluations depend on this."

Rudy looks shocked and says, "But Sam, you know we can't do this.  We don't have enough people power to make the number of phone calls that we will need to make."

Sam looks at Rudy and says nothing.  Then after a short silence, Sam says again, "Rudy, I want us to meet our goal by the end of the week."

The silence adds power and effectiveness to the statement Sam is making.  Sam does not allow any watering down of his request because to him it is of the utmost importance.  So without engaging in speculation with Rudy, after a short silence, Sam simply makes the statement again.

Silence to avoid impulsive decision making

"I know, I know," says your wife.  "We can go on vacation to the Bahamas.  The weather should be great and it's not that long a trip.  We can ask Fred if we can use his timeshare."

This sounds good and you are ready to jump on board, but instead you say, "Let me think about this - I don't want to make an impulsive decision and suddenly have airplane tickets that we can't use."  So you sit in silence contemplating the pros and cons before sharing them with your wife to make a careful and studied decision.

These are only a few of the ways in which silence can strengthen assertiveness.  So assertiveness isn't always what you say, but is often what you don't say.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Making the First Down in Speaking Up and in Football

Football always looked to me like a game of violence.  I thought the players were just trying to knock down the guy with the ball and to damage as many others on the field as possible. 

I am now learning that football is a very intelligent game.  The fundamentals of football include

1.  Identifying the goal,
2.  Determining how to get to the goal,
3.  Motivating yourself (and the team) to get to the goal, and
4.  Being prepared to counteract any attempts to keep you from getting to the goal.

In football the field is immense (100 yards long).  Even if you have the ball in the center of the field, you still have to travel 50 yards to the goal line.  If you focus on the goal, the distance could seem overwhelming.  

However, that’s not how it is done in football.  Instead the ball is moved down the field by making downs of ten yards each.

The point of the football game is to keep your eye on the ball and move the ball to the goal line to score. Along the way, you must keep your energy goal-directed and you must get any obstacles out of the path.

Let’s see how this applies to speaking up for yourself.

Identify the goal

In speaking up for yourself, you can set an ultimate goal toward which you are working.  Keeping your eye on the ball means moving yourself toward this long term goal.  Here are some examples of long range goals that a person might set:

Margaret’s goal: “I will meet my goal when I speak up in a corporate meeting in front of at least 30 other colleagues”

MaryBeth’s goal: “I will meet my goal when I successfully negotiate with my husband and take an active part in the decision making in our relationship”

Steve’s goal: “I will meet my goal when I am offered a new job in a higher level position in my company.”

What might your goal be?

Determine how to get to the goal

On the football field, getting to the goal involves moving the ball down the field.  Built into football is the idea of taking small steps toward a big goal.  In football each ten yard increment is a first down.  You get four tries in working to make a first down.

If you don't make the first down in four tries, the offensive team goes to the bench and tries to come up with a better strategy for the next opportunity to make the first down. With each small step toward our larger goal, we make first downs in speaking up for ourselves.

Margaret knew that she needed to try for first downs as she moved toward her goal which was:  “I will achieve my goal when I speak up in a corporate meeting in front of at least 30 other colleagues.”  She set some “ten yard” goals for herself.
  • First play:
1. Margaret volunteered for a small committee (five people) at work on which some of the more vocal employees participated.
2. Margaret committed to speak up at least once in every committee meeting

When Margaret did both of these items, she gave herself credit for getting a first down.  She then planned her next play.
  • Next play:
1.  Margaret decided to write a memo to one of the executives on the 30 person corporate team about an action she would like to use to move an office project forward
2.  Margaret will follow up the memo with a phone call to the corporate team member to see what he/she thinks

When Margaret succeeds at this, she will work to develop another play in which Margaret will speak individually to several other members of the team about her action idea

As you can see, Margaret is steadily working her way down the field toward her goal.

Motivating yourself to keep moving toward the ultimate goal

Margaret wants to keep her energy and motivation high.  To do this,

  • She can reshape and define her goals, based on the previous play.
   If the play went well, Margaret will want to find the successful elements in it to apply to the next play.  If the play didn’t go well, Margaret will make a new action plan
  • She can stay focused on her ultimate goals so that each play is in the right direction.
  • She can develop reinforcement for herself.
  Just as the football player takes a moment on the bench between plays to drink some Gatorade and regroup, Margaret must take care of herself to keep her positive energy up
  • She can have someone cheering her on.
  It’s difficult to meet goals alone, but helpful and gratifying to meet a goal with someone noticing and cheering for you

Being prepared to counteract any attempts to keep you from getting to the goal

In football, the quarterback may attempt to run the ball and be pushed back several yards.  On the next play, the quarterback tries to make up the yards lost and add some more yards in the progress to the first down.

The defensive linebackers in football are positioned to stop the play.  Their job is to keep the quarterback from getting a first down.  Unfortunately in life there often are people who serve as linebackers who block our attempts to make progress.

A smart quarterback tries to see the linebackers and maneuver around them.

Margaret will try to anticipate the ways her attempts to reach her goal might be blocked.
  • She will learn how to counter the disrespectful person who may make fun of her efforts to speak up in the committee meeting.
  • She will practice assertive ways to make her position known in a powerful manner. 
  • She will ask someone else to read the memo she will write in her second play to give her feedback and suggestions.
In a football game if the play fails, the coach and the players simply look at it as a blown play.  It’s not the end of the world.  At the end of a bad play, the football players and the coach huddle and make a plan for the next play.

Note:  The players don’t stand in the huddle and worry about the play that was just made.  They don’t berate themselves: e.g., “if I hadn’t been so clumsy, I wouldn’t have dropped the ball.”  A blown play means that it will now take three great plays to make a first down instead of the four they had available at first.

So in the huddle, they just plan the next play.

After all, the goal is to make a first down on the way to a touchdown.

It’s up to you – plan your goals and begin making plays to get to the first downs as you move down the field!  If one play doesn’t advance you toward your goal, just plan for the next one.  Go for it and good luck!

(Thanks to Friday Night Lights for the inspiration for this article)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Handing off the Baton: Assertive Delegation

In track and field, a good relay race involves the tight cooperation of four runners.  Each runner goes part of the distance and hands the baton off to the next runner.  If the baton exchange is a clean one, the chances for winning the race are much better than if the baton is dropped or the exchange is not handled well.

In a clean handoff, the second runner begins to run as the first runner enters the exchange zone.  For a perfect exchange, the runners’ hands are precisely parallel and the baton is transferred smoothly.  If the runners have to fumble to find each other’s hands; if they are not in step with each other; if they don’t run a precise distance together during the handoff, the race is over for the team.

For the baton exchange to happen well, the runners have to give up their ego needs in the service of the needs of the team.  Each runner’s best strength determines where he/she runs in the relay.  For example, the best starter runs the first leg of the race.  This person must be counted on not to have a false start and must be able to do the baton exchange almost perfectly.  The second and third runners must run strong and fast.  They must each be good both at passing the baton and at receiving it.  The last runner, the anchor, must keep a level head and must be able to handle the pressure well.  He/she cannot start running too soon, even if the team is behind and there is ground to make up.

In establishing a good baton exchange for the team, the coach must consider trust, strength, dependability, timing, and accuracy.

Assertive delegation includes all the characteristics of a clean baton exchange.  Opportunities for  assertive delegation arise at home when dividing household tasks, in our personal lives when working on committees and in clubs or organizations, and in business while working with others.

First in order to delegate assertively, you must be prepared to trust the person to whom you handoff the task.  When delegation is difficult, the person handing off the task is often unwilling to let it go.

Many of us grew up with the adage: “If you want something done well, you have to do it yourself.”
However, if you hold onto the baton in the transfer, unwilling to let it go completely, the receiver is likely to stumble and won’t be able to complete his/her job effectively.  A good assertive statement in passing the baton will assure you that the task will happen as you wish and will increase your trust in the other person.

Be precise in your handoff

Think about exactly what you need at the end of the task to feel good about the task’s completion.  Make an assertive statement to clarify what the other person should accomplish.  To be effective, this statement must not only convey respect to the other person, but must also be very specific about expectations.

Here is an example of a poor handoff:
Hi, Nora.  Remember the vendor accounts?  Well, I need you to finish them up by Friday.”

Now here is an example of a clear assertive delegation:
Nora, I want you to complete the work on the vendor accounts.  To complete the assignment you will need to:
1) contact all the vendors;
2) give them instructions in writing;
3) make sure that all of them have paid you by Friday.”

On the home front a poor handoff is:
Billy, I’d like you to do the laundry this weekend.”  This is not clear enough and leaves much room for misinterpretation.

Assumptions are a big problem when delegation is not precise.  My definition of “do the laundry” may mean something completely different from Billy’s definition.  Billy, for example, may think that “do the laundry” means to put one basket of clothes into the washing machine and start it.

A clear assertive delegation is specific:
Billy, I want you to do the laundry this weekend.  This means that you wash all of the laundry in all of the baskets, dry all of the wet laundry in the dryer, fold all of the clothes and stack each person’s folded laundry on his/her bed.”

Run along beside the delegate for a moment
to complete the handoff well

As the first runner hands the baton off to the second, for a short period they are running together.  In handing off a task, you must determine how figuratively to run beside your delegate.  For example, first you give your instructions.  To run beside him/her for a moment, you say assertively, “OK, Nora, now what is your understanding of what I am asking you to do?

As you hear her answer, you can complete the handoff, knowing that she is clear about her leg of the race.  If she isn’t clear, then stay with her long enough for both of you to be satisfied that the task instructions are understood.

In our home example, you’ll need to hear Billy’s understanding of his instructions.  He may wish to write the instructions down or you may provide him with a written list.  When I taught my children to do laundry, I posted instructions in the laundry room for how to start the washing machine and how to run the dryer so that no child could say, “I forgot how....”

Building in dependability

As the race is run, each runner is watching the other three, mentally staying in pace as the race progresses.  Each runner depends on the ability of the other three to complete the relay.

In assertive delegation, we build in dependability in two ways.

1. We choose our delegate well.

Our history with the person to whom we delegate is a large factor in choosing him/her.  However, sometimes we delegate to challenge another person or to provide them with an opportunity to grow.  (This is likely to be what we are doing in trying to train Billy to do the laundry!)

2.  We build in an action to allow us to follow what our delegate is doing.

For example, in our instructions to Nora, we might say assertively, “Nora, I’d like you to email me every morning to let me know where you are on the project.  In doing this, I’ll have a daily progress report and I can cheer you on.”

For Billy, an assertive comment is: “Billy, I know doing the laundry will be hard, so I’ll check on you on Sunday and cheer if you are doing the job well.”  Another approach for Billy is:  “Billy, if you have any trouble doing the laundry, come and ask me for advice.  I’ll gladly give suggestions, but doing the laundry will still be your job.”

Timing is everything

In a relay race, timing is everything.  The second runner must be poised to start as the first runner approaches.  In fact, the second runner begins to run just as the first runner enters the exchange zone.

In our assertive delegation, we will more likely delegate to someone who can see us coming.  We will choose a person who can anticipate how we might need his/her help and who will already be on the move when we arrive.

Timing is also a key factor at the end of the race.  If the handoffs have gone well, the runners will be as efficient as possible as they approach the finish line.  No wasted time will slow the finish down.

In delegating a task assertively, we can point to timing in our initial instructions to our delegate.  For example, we might say to Nora, “Nora, our deadline for this project is next Friday.  I want the project in on time.  What do you think will help you get to the deadline?  What will be a roadblock on the way to the deadline?

With children like Billy, timing may have to include consequences.  For example, “Billy, I’ll expect the laundry to be finished by 5 PM on Sunday.  Because everyone needs their clean clothes on Monday morning, I’ll expect you to work until you’re finished, even if that means missing your favorite Sunday night show.”

Winning the medal at the end of the race

When a relay team wins the event, each team member gets a medal.  This rewards each individual for his or her contribution to the whole team’s accomplishment.

In delegation, we must think like the coach of the team.  If you delegate a task, plan a reward for the completion of the task.  If your employee finishes the project on or before deadline, reward him/her.  This reward can be simple: an extra half hour for lunch; getting to go home early one day; or a big sign on the team bulletin board: “NORA FINISHED THE VENDOR PROJECT!” 

And if Billy actually does the laundry, I’m sure you and he can create a list of rewards that he would love to receive!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Am Going - An Assumption Undermines Communication

Mo Willems writes children’s books that convey basic conflicts in life in beautifully presented, simple ways.  His themes of friendship, connection, and communication, told for children, reflect issues that adults face as well.

My grandson loves I am Going! because it’s the very first book he read himself cover to cover.  I love I am Going! because it deals with assumptions and how they bring confusion to communication.

Willems’ series about Elephant and Piggie focuses on Gerald, a neurotic elephant, and Piggie, a happy-go-lucky pig.  When Piggie announces to Gerald, “I am going!” Gerald is filled with anxiety.  

He assumes Piggie is abandoning him.  In desperation he pleads, “Go later!  Go tomorrow!  Go next week!  Go next month!  GO NEXT YEAR!”  But Piggie sticks to her original statement, “I am going now.”  

Gerald, who is reacting from his assumption about abandonment, stays in a state of panic until Piggie finally tells him that she is going to lunch.  He spent a tremendous amount of emotional energy when a simple question to clarify what Piggie meant would have saved that for him.  All he needed to ask was either “Why are you going?” or “Where are you going?”  Instead he assumed she was abandoning him and reacted accordingly.

In many couples that I work with in therapy, the issue of assumption often clouds communication.  Sometimes the reaction is an assumption which is the result of history.  He says, “I know what will happen if I try to connect more with her.  She’ll criticize me and tell me I’m doing it wrong.”  His assumption keeps him from taking the risk of connecting with his partner.  

Sometimes the assumption is like Gerald’s assumption, attributing a meaning when a clarifying question would save the day.  She says, “I’d rather go to Florida than to Michigan any day.”  He, a guy who came from Michigan, assumes she doesn’t like his state and maybe doesn’t want to do things he wants to do.  The resulting resentment he feels clouds his next statement to her.  “Well,” he says in a hurt tone, “ we don’t HAVE to go on vacation at all.”

If he had not made the assumption, the conversation could have gone like this:

She:  “I’d rather go to Florida than to Michigan any day.”
He:  “What do you like best about going to Florida?” ⬅ Note: clarifying question
She:  “It’s always warm and sunny when we go.  In Michigan, I always need a coat.”
He:  “With all my relatives in Michigan, I do like to go there.  Wonder how we could go on vacation and both feel good about it?”
She:  “How about if we go to Michigan in late July?  Then it’s so much warmer than it would be now over spring break.  We could go to Florida now for Spring Break and then to Michigan in July.”

When assumptions are waylaid by a clarifying question - in this example: “What do you like best about going to Florida?” then good communication can take place.

Sometimes your assumption may be right.  

She:  “I’d rather go to Florida than to Michigan any day.”
He:  “What do you like best about going to Florida?”
She (in a snarky tone): “Your family ISN”T there.”

But that is for another article about how contempt is a roadblock to connection!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Learning to Argue with Respect

Recently NPR had an article about how important it is for teens to learn to argue with their parents.  Typically teenage arguments are comprised of screaming, yelling, slamming doors.  I remember when my brother and I were teenagers, he actually threw his shoe through a wall while screaming at my parents.

NPR's piece takes the stand that a teen can learn to negotiate in adult life if his/her parents handle arguing with the teenager well.

I've been watching the five seasons of Friday Night Lights, a wonderfully written and acted TV show that didn't catch on too well with the public.  The show follows the drama of a football coach and his family through five seasons.  In the process Coach Taylor and his wife Tami parent a teenage daughter, Julie.  While Julie has her moments of yelling and slamming doors, for the most part, the interactions between her and her parents are filled with mutual respect.

The respect is there because Coach Taylor and Tami Taylor demonstrate throughout the series one of the best marriages I've ever seen in a TV series.  They disagree, they disappoint each other, but they also fulfill each other and respect each other throughout each interaction.

One of the best examples of a respectful conversation with a teenage daughter occurs in Season Three, Episode 10 - "The Giving Tree."  Julie and Tami have a perfect interaction of a respectful mother and daughter in discussion after Tami discovers that Julie is having sex with her boyfriend.  Coach has an equally respectful conversation with Matt, Julie's boyfriend, in this episode as well.

While modeling respect provides a good foundation for effective arguing, communication skills involved in a respectful argument can be taught as well.

The basic elements of a good argument are mutual respect, good listening, and the ability and willingness to put yourself in the other person's shoes.

  • Mutual Respect:

A relationship which incorporates mutual respect has communication interactions that reflect this.

Sarcasm, contempt, or joking with the goal of poking at the other person are not demonstrative of respect.  The dictionary defines respect as: "having due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others."  Wikipedia says that contempt is the antonym of respect.   When anything other than respect enters communication, then distancing results.

Remember that respect is conveyed not only by the words you choose but also by the tone of voice you use.  Sarcasm, contempt and other distancing can be sensed if your voice tone reflects those emotions.  A caring well-modulated tone of voice will serve well to send a message of respect.

  • Good Listening:
Often in an argument, one is inclined to think of what you want to say next rather than to listen.  Listening well requires that you take your attention out of your own head and focus on what the other person is saying.

An assertive way to demonstrate that one is listening is to say back to the other person what you heard him/her say or your interpretation of what you heard the other person say.

"So I understand from what you say that none of your friends have to be in by midnight."

  • Putting yourself in the other person's shoes
Trying to stay aware of what the other person may feel as he/she speaks and listens during an argument will keep you connected to that person.  Make comments that let the other person know you are trying to understand him/her in the course of the conversation.  Even when you are on opposite sides of the fence, an empathic comment strengthens the connection between you and the person with whom you are arguing.

Example:  "When you said that a curfew is unreasonable, you seemed angry that your dad and I want to set a  limit about how long you can stay out on Friday."

Whatever the topic, try to end the argument on a note of mutual agreement:

"OK, so as I understand what we've talked about, we've agreed that your curfew will be 12:30 rather than midnight and that we'll try this out for a couple of weeks to see how it goes.  Then we'll get back together and see if we need to change anything about this agreement."

Of course these principles of effective, assertive argument apply not only to talking with teenagers but also to conversations in daily life with anyone.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Speaking Up For Yourself Assertively: Assertiveness Class offered in Atlanta

Making an effort to be more assertive is a common New Year's resolution.  If this is your resolution or if you simply would like to learn more about speaking up for yourself, I am offering a face to face class in Atlanta on Saturday, February 4 from 9 - 12 at my office in Atlanta.  

What:  A Class in Assertive Communication

Who:  Taught by Dr. Linda Tillman

When:  Saturday, February 4
                   9 AM - Noon

Where:  1904 Monroe Dr. NE, Atlanta, GA    

What you will experience:

  Learn the basics of assertive communication
  Learn how to handle yourself assertively both verbally and nonverbally
·             Learn how to express anger assertively rather than aggressively
·             Learn how to negotiate assertively and effectively
·             Learn how to give feedback clearly and respectfully

The group will be limited to 10 people

How to register:  Click here

Cost:  $100 per person

*Special discount:  If you are coming with your partner or spouse, the total for the two of you is $160

We can accept payment by PayPal, credit card, or check