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May 21, 2013
Life after Warwick :first blog after entering into the world of work
August 03, 2012
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.
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
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
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”.
Nevertheless, 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.
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. I 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
July 25, 2012
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.
June 25, 2012
Follow-Up 2: From ‘knowing the way to learn’ to ‘Making the Choice to learn’
Having nearly a month to implement all I learnt as well as focus on action potentials, I have experienced both good and bad points. I can truly say I have changed as a person in my approach to people, from the reserved individual to someone who is not afraid of voicing their opinion, but with diplomacy.
Key in implementing these techniques were the groups works that I had mentioned, where there were times others wanted to do a certain subject and I voiced my opinion and made sure it was heard before the decision was made.
The posture was an area I have been good at maintaining. Adding to that I have ensured I got out of my protective bubble to talk to new people. The prospect that each person is AGGRESSIVE/ PASSIVE at different times and under different circumstance was clear to me following some of the group work sessions we had. There were moments when others with really strong personalities took control of the group and dictated the work. Personally I hated this idea and through discussions ( maintain a group posture, eye contact ) I tried to exude some authority emphasising the need for everyone’s opinions. However, I noticed there were moments when I became really annoyed and 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). I finally was able to ‘SAY NO’, something I always had a problem to do. Always 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. I made sure 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, as in the past individual problems from a member concerning work would be tackled my only me. This would become a problem if the member had a strong personality, as in the case of the last module I had it was an issue. The person would come to me with the idea or issue and when I critique it they would get personal if I didn’t agree. Thus trying to be ASSERTIVE, I would pick out good points of the idea and the bad. If the person still wasn’t listening I called in a group discussion to critique it, rather than me doing it alone as with an AGGRESSIVE personality there is only so much you could explain ( as in this case the personal always took it personal).
This was a firsthand experience of understanding that AGGRESSIVE/ PASSIVE are traits that human beings elicit at different points. Thus I also understood the need to be ASSERTIVE, as clearly me being aggressive (even though I would be right in doing so) would not be positive for the group and would build a very negative image amongst the group members as well as affect the credibility of any opinions I made and cause loss of interpersonal respect.
Verbal communication is an area I’m still working on, as I have not mastered the techniques of the ’Voice, Intonation and Semantic SYSTEM’. Sometimes I have used it whilst talking, and have seen the image it reflects of myself, being calm, collected& stable. Thus, is still an area I’m working on as I’m key to implement it and thus the image it reflects. A key victory I really want to mention is the restoration of communication with a person who I had a problem with, following a misunderstanding 2 months ago. She didn’t talk to me previously unless needed to, even though the issue was with the other members in the group, not me. Through the use of ASSERTIVE measures especially the posture and using ’Voice, Intonation and Semantic SYSTEM’, she speaks with me and has increased over the past month.
On key area I’ve thoroughly improved on is ‘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.
Therefore, being able to reap fruits of BEING ASSERTIVE I aim to develop the lacking areas , especially verbal communication and thus my SELF-CONFIDENCE. A general but very important trait is that now I express my opinions or feelings more. It feels really really really good, as if I am free to express who I really am.
June 02, 2012
Follow-Up 1: Self Reflection and Road to change
With behaviour and approach being so entwined with a healthy lifestyle and mindset, it is key to identify not only your needs but others too, as well as expressing both. As your behaviour is a reflection of your personality and traits, it is one of the key factors society uses to analyse each person.
With traits varying from ‘Aggressive to Assertive to Passive’ the key question of whether these three were all at different points on the same scale or completely different behaviours was analysed initially at the workshop. Understanding this difference helps us relate to the fact that we as human beings elicit all the three traits at different points, with high dependence on circumstances.
However both ‘Aggressive and Passive behaviours’ could be categorised as having emotional basis, where as assertive behaviour is a trait which is carried with you all the time, in your personality. Thus assertive behaviour is an ability that you have within you to act at certain situations, being prepared for situations and being proactive, standing by your decisions, avoiding conflicts and at the same time being respectful towards other also keeping your self-respect intact.
Through the various dynamic and interactive exercises intricately crafted by Bev , the combined importance of both ‘verbal and non-verbal communication’ was recognized. Something that could create a first impression of a person without even any direct interaction. Specifically as in the case of the non-verbal communicational means including importance of ‘posture and stance’, which could create a friendly, accepting and mature image or another exuding being closed, arrogant or reserved. Something that could make a difference where ever you are; friends, family, interviews, social or professional events etc. Thus importance of a good posture and the difference it has was firmly established in my mind following this workshop, which I hope to apply in everyday moments. Adding to the set contained within good posture ( shoulders head position, firm foot placement), a ‘high head and low tail system’ could be also implemented to voice my opinions with authority; assertiveness demands I give respect however also demanding respect back.
Adding to this is the ‘Voice, Intonation and Semantic’ system. These work on the verbal aspects that could significantly radiate stability and/or psychological issues based on the extent of usage and usage quality for each of these. A personal tool that I hope to implement in everyday behaviour to tackle conflicts as well as interact effectively.
Upon deciphering the link between ‘confidence and self-esteem’ to behaviour and how they can feedback to alter behaviour, it was key I put tools and points I learnt from this workshop to everyday life allowing me to personally grow and develop to having both high self esteem and confidence levels. Thus being more assertive for me would mean being more effective at interacting with people, as I have a tendency to be quiet especially around new people. It would also mean I could build a professional and confident image that I can exude to the society.
Hence in short, following this workshop I am about to start a module relying heavily on group work, an excellent place to implement these skills. I plan to meticulously follow the developed ‘Action Points’ , which include:
- 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
Thank You Bev for a motivating and insightful workshop