July 25, 2012

Follow–Up 3: What next after Making the Choice to learn?

Follow-up to Follow–Up 2: From ‘knowing the way to learn’ to ‘Making the Choice to learn’ from Melvin's blog

The last few weeks having been filled with a number of group projects were the longest most tiring two weeks of my life. Anyway, in that time I had the opportunity of working with different people on many projects, leading sometimes and following in others, a key place where I used my learned skills in ‘ASSERTIVENESS’ and ‘TEAM WORKING’ simultaneously. For this post I’m focusing only on ‘ASSERTIVENESS’ as the team working blog post will follow soon J.

These projects provided a great environment for me since I tried to be as assertive as I can be, without sounding aggressive -hopefully-, and almost all of my team members described me as a 'natural leader' something I never knew I could achieve in such a short time.

To be fair, some of these projects also allowed me to develop a holistically assertive in different situations. To be fair, I have participated in many workshops and I believe almost all of them helped me become more assertive, an example is the workshop on "delivering effective presentations" which taught me that assertiveness and confidence can be faked, then built from the effect of the fake in the eyes of the audience,. This, I tried to implement in my approach and can be seen in the way I interacted in the various workshops, specifically during my input for developing the presentational resource with Han-Na Cha, alongside others J. Assertiveness is a skill that I am liberally using these days especially with my dissertation supervisor, to attain his views on my structure and course of action, as well as to develop a close and effective supervisor- supervisee relationship.

Nonetheless, presentational approaches with assertiveness implemented were the best at helping me develop confident communication, one of my main action points. Towards the end of the last 2 modules we were tasked with preparing a presentation that required about at the very least 2 days of solid preparation before, as it involved coming up with a new business strategy (including a lot of variables to look at ).

Considering it was the summer and nearly end of the course, I realized that not everyone in my team was willing to participate fully. So I took it as my responsibility to motivate them by reminding them of how well we had done so far, bringing up the enthusiasm and interest that the professor projected on our topic. Adding to this I used the power of positive thinking to self motivate each individual, by reminding them how great it would feel if we stood out as the best. I also instilled a need to deliver the importance of giving the best, telling them the professor kept a keen interest in the way we tackled this issue and coming up a new strategy for the company ‘APPLE’. Come the day of the presentation; three of my team presented, two colleagues and myself, I closed specifically inviting the whole team to the floor to take questions for the discussion. I tried to lead the discussion by encouraging my team to through ideas and thoughts, without myself jumping into the answer myself. I also ensured I summarised what they had said, and adding final comments on their contributions.

Thus, via using presentations I have built my confidence in verbal communication, always taking a second before answering, having a smile and engaging in non-threatening eye contact J. Every success at these occasions has built my assertive skills, giving myself a confidence boost which can be seen in the interactive debates in I engage in, voicing my views on a topic through questions I ask the tutor. The success at presentations were easily one of the most confident moments I had in my life, and I absolutely enjoyed it, what's more I intend on reliving it again and again.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, I have realised that in quite stressful situations where I have been trying to be assertive, I could come off as aggressive. A situation comes to mind where I tried my best to try and illustrate that the professor was looking for a specific case to explain his topic. But, this individual was reluctant to see my point of view, rather criticising my views (which are fine) and getting quite personal about the comments.


I did realise at these moment my assertive behaviour started to take a more aggressive approach( probably because I started getting annoyed; EMOTION DRIVEN COMMUNICATION), however I am very quick to assess what I say and realise how I might sound. Thus, tried to ease the situation by illustrating I am a student just as the other individual and probably lack knowledge in certain parts, following which direct them to the tutor. Always after such a situation, I try to direct the attention to more social or out of context situations ( such as did you see the football match last night?). Thus ensuring the small strife filled situation we could have had was avoided and making sure our relationship was not affected. FINISH ON A GOOD NOTE J Always keeping in mind ‘Never fear to show your feeling and opinions’ as it just feels too good to pass on. However, keep in mind the image of yourself you are projecting, the effect on the other person and the effect on relationships. Tailor your communication in an Assertive manner, getting rid of passiveness or aggressiveness and exuding yourself as a confident and professional individual.



- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. Beverley Veasey-Walshe

    Hello Melvin,
    A full and detailed reflection, well grounded in your experiences with context and detail. You reflect on a great many areas so I will highlight on a few areas and you maybe assured that I am happy with anything I do not comment on specifically.

    One key word you use is ‘holistic’ and I am pleased that you are aware that being assertive is a behaviour that permeates all aspects of our life. It is not about our personality, talents or intellect. At its simplest it is a set of guidelines that enable us to approach any situation, assertive behaviour is always a choice – as we cannot help our emotions, but we can help the way we behave!

    It is interesting that you note that opening the conversation to something neutral like football can be helpful. I feel that this links to the holistic approach, as you are acknowledging that a person under stress is not the whole person. It is easy to ‘lock’ people into negative emotions and behaviour by limiting them. Remembering that we have lives outside work or university can allow people to access other more positive emotions and modes of behaviour.

    An enjoyable thoughtful blog Melvin, well done!

    06 Aug 2012, 16:46

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