Influence: Being Assertive
Without Being a Jerk
by Kevin Hogan
This collection of memories has stuck with me for a long time.
When I first started doing public events about my book, Irresistible Attraction,
I ran into a LOT of people who were taking "Assertiveness
Training" of one kind or another. Probably a function of who I was interviewing. Or maybe Boeing and Microsoft were doing these gigs then, as it was their employees I was often meeting with.
"Assertiveness Training" often transformed normal
and otherwise talented and intelligent individuals into complete
I began asking about the strange behavior of people which I observed and they
often proudly shared their experiences.
Had I not been told, I would have been led to believe that people
were doing "How to Be a Jerk Training," a specialization which
for thousands of years, was reserved only for men. A majority of the people taking
lessons (at least those who were visiting with me after events)
in what they called "Assertiveness," were women.
Just what the world needed...more people behaving like men...!
Body Language, Tonality & Attitude
How did I figure out that otherwise normal people were using these bizarre, new communication strategies? It was in their body language,
tonality, and attitude.
There is a big difference between hostility and certainty.
There is a big difference between aggressive and assertive.
There is a big difference between robbery and thinking about it.
The experiences these people shared, reminded me that what people are often looking for is "justice" or "revenge" instead of "being heard" and "being significant" and worthy of input.
Not every person I interviewed for the book had these newly built in characteristics. An awful lot did.
The problem that people who fail to assert themselves run into,
is that they confuse assertion (having a meaningful voice) with aggression
(bullying and/or gaining revenge).
The difficulty a lot of women face is that they believe that
if they act like men, they will be more respected and feel better
The research shows this is not the case.
The fact is that assertiveness and aggression have little if anything
to do with each other.
And the research is clear, women who appear aggressive actually
are much less respected by both men & women, so women lose twice.
Assertion is about "putting forward" an idea or thoughts and
feelings when logical and appropriate.
Neither gender does this particularly well, so if you could find a real assertiveness
training, it could be worth experiencing.
Let me give you an interesting scenario and observe how people "self and other-sabotage."
You'll recognize it...
How often have you experienced this?:
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