“Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Horrific Truth About Assertive Skills Training
There is one shocking truth about teaching assertiveness skills to look out for otherwise you’ll never be able to effectively teach assertion.
Whether you’re a parent educating your child or teenager, communication trainer doing a seminar for women, or a human resource manager doing a workshop for employees, the truth is you must know how to assert yourself before you teach others.
I’ve been a communication skills coach for over five years now and heard some scary stories of conflict management trainers opting for the flight response in conflict and assertive skills trainers unable to assert themselves.
Think about it. If you cannot teach yourself assertiveness, how can you expect another person to learn from you?
So the first lesson is to make yourself assertive in communication and behavior.
The Best Model to Speed Up Learning
The next step is to provide the passive, assertive, and aggressive model. Draw three columns with “Passive”, “Assertive”, and “Aggressive” headings.
Under each heading, write down elements that describe each type of communication and behavior. I also encourage you to provide examples.
Under the “Passive” heading, you could have:
– A flight response (withdraw and run away)
– Avoid eye contact
– Often a loss for you and win for them as you avoid having your needs met
– Say nothing
Under the “Assertive” heading, you could have:
– A relationship-healthy response
– Strong, non-intrusive eye contact
– Win-win situation
– Example: “Could you repeat that please? I didn’t understand.”
Under the “Aggressive” heading, you could have:
– A fight response
– Stare down your opponent
– Win for you and a loss for them as you get your needs met at the expense of someone else (really ends up a loss-loss)
– Example: “Shut up and do your work!”
The Number One Activity to Teach Assertiveness
There are some activities to teach assertiveness I like that I recommend you use. One activity stands out, however. Role playing!
The best activity to help children is to role play. Act out situations they are likely to face in school and at home. If the child is having problems with a bully, be that bully (within reason of course!) and get the child to communicate and behave assertively.
Role playing is also useful for others you teach like women or teenagers. Tailor the scenarios to situations the person struggles in. By acting out the situations, you teach your students the assertiveness skills when they need them the most.