August 03, 2012

P2 Follow–Up 4:The Final Review of "Becoming Assertive"– Achieving the needed change!

Follow-up to Follow–Up 3: What next after Making the Choice to learn? from Melvin's blog

So “becoming more assertive” was and still one of the most challenging aspects of my new life, I know it is a continuous effort, and this is reflective piece is about what I learnt so far.

HBat

A recap of my action points is as follows:

Ensuring maintenance of an assertive posture, whilst also exuding vitality in introducing/networking with others, as well as voice my opinions freely.

Understanding that the maintenance of my self-esteem is a personal endeavour and it not dependent on other, thus grab every opportunity to take initiative and build confidence

Improve on verbal communication via use of the tools stated .

  • Make the steps of an assertive behaviour a habit:

i) State the problem ii) Explain how it affects you iii) Listen to the other person’s point of view and respect it iv) Be prepared to negotiate v) Leave old grievances out of the conservation

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Over the months I have stated and implemented a number of action points that has thoroughly developed me and given me insight into being assertive. Assertiveness as a behavioural type which entwines non-verbal communication (body language), (intonation) as well as verbal communication. It is the mastery of these aspect s that define you as assertive. Such as with intonation, that is neutral and soothing with a dip at the end, reminiscing the ubiquitous "mind the gap" we hear on public transport. Adding to this a key revelation was that self-esteem and confidence are not mutually exclusive. One can radiate confidence and have very little self-esteem, but having high self-esteem gives you a state of contempt. In succession, my experience also helped me realise that aggressiveness, passiveness and assertiveness are not on a spectrum but separate characteristics. Assertiveness borrows the characteristics that the other two lack.

My practice frame

I think we have chances to practice being assertiveness all the time, my experiences to develop this skill included implementing it with friends, family as well as during academia; projects , group works(THIS WAS THE MAIN AREA FOR IMPLEMENTATION).As group leader in one project was a key place to being an ASSERTIVE LEADER, bringing together authority and assertiveness, an area with the risk to appear “AGGRESSIVE”. Another occasion presented me with a group with extremely strong personalities where getting heard and expressing my ideas/feelings was very tough. Additionally the third occasion brings together a group of a mix of people with ones who want me to be a leader and others who what to control the group. Here I experienced both the occasion where I seemed to be “PASSIVE” being over spoken by some members and another where whilst trying to be assertive the person just was not ready to listen, making me realise I was slowly starting to be “AGGRESSIVE”. So through the months I have tuned myself into being assertive most of the time, however it is still a challenge as these behavioural traits are very circumstantial.

Overall all the practice I had implementing the different techniques allowed me to see all the aspects of the techniques, when they are good when they are bad etc. A lot of the occasions I have been quite effective as I have stated in previous posts, with respect to conflict resolution etc.

What worked and what didn’t

assertive balance

As with every development process, I tried out most of the techniques taught. A lot of them really helped me develop this state of mind, keeping emotion away and becoming assertive. Posture being a cruicial factor is something I have always started to implement, something like a second nature. Ensuring that my posture, stance etc is neutral and doesn't suggest submissiveness or arrogance is key to emanating confidence. It is the initial aspect of yourself that determines your image even before you have spoken to someone. This is something that I have found very easy to implement especially thanks to presentations, projecting a professional image of oneself. Another aspect is voice intonation, that was easy to implement when I was not emotional. It was this aspect that kept making me stray from Assertiveness.


During group work session, especially whilst being the group leader I wrestled with getting my emotions involved. Mainly due to the fact that being the leader, I tried to exude some authority emphasising the need for everyone’s opinions, principally in a group consisting of very strong personalities . I finally found the main reason why I was getting so worked up; predominantly because having worked for longer than others, when other members decided that rather than them writing up the report, I do (as I’d be more aesthetically pleasing), and me being myself was finidng it hard to “SAY NO”.

rlsNevertheless, with a lot of effort I finally was able to ‘SAY NO’, something I always had a problem to do. Previously being a YES person to everyone, thus not looking out for myself, this was a big change. It felt very different, as if I was in control and thus building my confidence. Understanding the aspect of assertiveness I measured my saying NO was not rude but diplomatic by persuading everyone to input their bits into a document, whilst I take a well deserved break, after which I will compile it. Explaining to them what I can do for them and cannot do right now, as well as emphasising that we discussed who will take responsibility on each task. If they have problems we discuss and solve the issues as a group rather than me being the only problem solver.

One key area I’ve thoroughly improved which was hard once again was, ‘Leaving previous grievances out of the conversation’. This has improved my psychological mindset in being more emotionally stable and thus being focussed in generating an Assertive and critical argument or on the other hand having a thoroughly stimulating conversation with someone and generating the correct impression. The benefits of something I have seen during my interactions with people and with the increased interactions people have had with me compared to before I protruded an ASSERTIVE NATURE. I must say this “I have not completely mastered but am continually improving on it”. Being something I did a lot of previously, it is hard to get rid of completely. However, assessing my conversation( WHAT I AM GOING TO SAY) has really helped me stop myself, or in the case I have slipped up before it gets worse get back to the assertive nature and provide a non-emotional outlook. I have come to look back and see how vulnerable and miserable person this would have made to look like, whilst also removing a part of my credibility in formulation of a sound argument. It is definitely not what I want myself to be seen as, and am consistently trying to change the person I am, by streamlining my behavioural aspects.


On a different note, the BIRD appraisal measure is a valuable tool, however at first, it wasn’t easy to apply since at times I forgot what each letter stood for. As I used it more and more during practise, especially by keeping the sheet in my bag at first whilst going to each group work session, it started to become easier to implement as it became second nature, thus giving me the confidence and ease of mind that I have the power to tackle such situations. I found that it taught me how to take my time and think before engaging in a conflict (or even being part of a situation). The most important thing about the BIRD method -to me- is the fact that it is about me, my time, schedule or a agenda, I don’t have to answer to anyone just because he/she wants me to, as how they chose the time and setting of their answer, I get to choose the time and setting of my answer.

The best aspect was that I am able to consistently use the steps in making behaviour more assertive. Using the the stated procedure has really helped especially in tackling really intense situations, where I have tried to handle group members with really strong or hostilitic personalities.


Where Am I now

So the main question of “What is next? Where do I go from here?.

Following my journey on this path of assertiveness, I genuinely believe that I have changed considerably, I actually feel that I’m not always standing in my own way. Rather I have become the person pushing myself into the future without staying in the past. I have improved my self confidence considerable and is something I always hold on to dearly, being so proud J. I think being assertive and having a good self-esteem is all about how we feel about ourselves. balanceI have also realised the importance of self assessment at every situation, as what each person has to implement is a balance. Depending on what sort of person you are initially the extent of implementation varies, as for a passive person they will have to be more outwardly active (extroversive behaviour) to get them initially out of the strong passive mindset. As will a naturally strong personality, aggressive person, they will have to push them to the extent of forcing them to listen (which would be hard). With each person to reach assertiveness and becoming more assertiveness the balance lies at different positions. I found that out with myself during my voyage on “Becoming more assertive”. I also learnt the centre for the balance keeps changing based on experiences, because if by trying to be more extroversive you could have over shot the mid-point and currently are dangerously near becoming aggressive in your quest of being less passive. Thus it is thoroughly important in self assessment, one which I will be forever implementing.

This journey on self assessment, reflection and development has done just that, making me more assertive and boosting my self-esteem. Most important of all I don’t think this journey is over here, as the world out there is a place full of surprises. Life with throws ups and downs constantly at you and forgetting about what I have learnt here would mean going back to that ME that I so dislike. I absolutely love the person I have become and aim to constantly practise the art of assertiveness, especially not forgetting NON-Verbal communication as well as verbal communication aspect. The one FUNDAMENTAL thing these sessions of personal development have taught me is,

“Always remember self-confidence is not something that once lost is gone forever, But it is something that when rebuilt will be stronger than ever!!”

“WHAT BREAKS US ONCE, HELPS US TO BE STRONGER THAN EVER BEFORE!” – Me


Regards

Melvin


- 2 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Beverley Veasey-Walshe

    Hello Melvin,

    Another full and detailed blog, you clearly have a well tuned ability to observe and analyse your behaviour and act upon your observations. A great skill!

    Your reflections are a valid and responsible commentary on your progress with considered plans for the future. It is exciting that you have developed in the areas you mention – ‘saying no’, using the communication system to help you engage assertively, leaving emotion and past grievances out of your engagement, and using BIRD effectively. This is an excellent demonstration of your approach to self development and application of your new skills and knowledge.

    I only have a few comments, which I think are probably only very slight misunderstandings:
    Having a high self esteem does not lead to contempt for others. Self esteem is not a behaviour. Contempt is a behaviour, probably born of very low respect for others, and as respect for others is a key element of assertive behaviour (see my comments below) contempt can never be a feature of assertive behaviour while high self esteem is. We cannot respect ourselves or others unless we nurture and care for our own self esteem.
    You say in your contract ‘I have the right to feel and express anger’. Why have you picked on anger? It is one of many emotions.
    It is true that you have a right to your emotions, you have a right to express them, but you should express them in an unemotional way. And that’s the difference between FEELING emotions and ACTING on emotions. Do not confuse those two, or you have effectively ignored the difference between aggressive and assertive behaviour.
    In the list should be: ‘Respect others’, Respect their feelings, rights, beliefs and opinions. It is much more, much bigger than ‘disagree in a respectful manner’.

    My very best wishes for the future Melvin
    Bev

    06 Aug 2012, 17:12

  2. Melvin Jose

    Hi Bev,

    Thank you so much for your comments, especially clarifying the issue with contempt. About the contracts I think I overlooked the image before putting it in. Thank you for correcting that for me.

    Most of all I would like to state my gratitude for all your support in helping me develop myself. I hope you wouldn’t mind if I used the email Id you gave to keep in touch as I am graduating very soon, finishing in September. :)

    Thanking You
    Melvin

    06 Aug 2012, 22:06


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