Friday, December 12, 2008

Assertiveness Training

I have attended and been an instructor for assertiveness training workshops. I have gleaned so much knowledge, both professionally and personally from these wonderful trainings.

Assertiveness is so different from either aggressiveness or passivity. When one speaks assertively and acts assertively they take control of their own responses in interactions with others. I have been told by patients, friends, and colleagues that my definition of assertiveness is helpful so I will share it here on this blog. There are 3 ways one can respond to conflict or differences with another; passively, aggressively, or ASSERTIVELY.

To me, passivity is allowing others to speak to us in a way that is not respectful of oneself. This passive quality in interactions with others is that the passive person neglects their own truths and ability to speak their feelings to others because they are too concerned with the way they may be perceived by another. They neglect their own needs in this way. They "stuff" their own feelings so as not to offend or upset the other person. These feelings, however, do NOT just go away. Much of clinical depression is the result of feelings being stuffed and repressed leading to internalized anger. (Depression is often "anger turned inwards")

Aggressive responses do the opposite. People who are aggressive are so concerned for their own feelings that they are often disrespectful to others and not at all concerned how the other person feels after they speak to them. They care only about themselves and neglect other's feelings and are insensitive. The result is usually people not wishing to be around them and may lead to rage, loneliness, and being involved with others who may resent them as much as care about them.

Assertive folks know that they must do both. They need to respect others and be sensitive to their needs, yet know that what they feel MUST be stated. They honor their own truth as well as others. They are mindful to speak to another in a way that is easier to hear as it is spoken with honesty, sensitivity , and care for the other person. In this way, they honor themselves as well as the other person. They possess a higher probability of loving , supportive, and enduring relationships with others who truly respect them and enjoy them.

Assertiveness training helps us to be aware of how we communicate with others. Like any habit, positive or negative, it gets easier with practice and consistency. We can learn to not keep what we feel inside, yet, be respectful and listen to another's truth and perspective on a situation. We can learn to REALLY LISTEN as well not just catch our breath as we think of what to say next. Assertive people know that what they feel must be expressed and appreciate the art of timing of their responses and sensitivity to other's feelings and perspective. We can learn that we don't always have to agree with each other, but we always need to RESPECT each other.

Dr. Crew offers assertiveness training workshops as well as individual sessions at his Tonglen Psychotherapy office. Appointments can be made and information can be provided by contacting him at 880-2531.

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