Why assertiveness training does not work very well

Assertiveness training usually focuses on ways of expressing yourself through language; speaking in ways that are assertive without being aggressive. It may give you helpful strategies for certain situations, but it will not make you an assertive person.

Assertiveness training involves learning a communication pattern that expresses your feelings without disrespecting the other person. So, when you want to say something like, “Jack, you idiot! You left the headlights on and my battery is dead. Drive me to work so I won’t be late!” Instead you would say, “Jack. When you leave the headlights on in my car, it drains the battery and leaves me with no way to get to work on time. I’d like you to give me a ride to work.”

This is a far superior way to verbally communicate to Jack. He will be more likely to give you a ride to work than to become angry at you for calling him an idiot. However, using language in this way will not, in itself, make you assertive.

On the other hand, if you are an assertive (not aggressive) person; that is you are in an assertive and powerful state of being, you will automatically use forms of language that are respectful rather than hurling undue blame at others. And, you won’t have to think about it, read about it, or practice it.

If you are not really in an assertive and powerful state, you will fool no one with your assertive language. If you are not truly assertive, you will have a tendency to set limits and yet not follow through on them. Then when others take advantage of this, you may get angry and aggressive or be passive aggressive.

Anger is not assertiveness. The powerful may get angry, but anger will not make you powerful. If a pedestrian angrily stomps his foot and yells at you for exceeding the limit as you fly past him…who cares? He has no power. But a policeman has been given power by your locality. He doesn’t have to get angry because you broke the law. He or she simply climbs in the cruiser and pulls you over to receive a citation and a bill for the appropriate fine to be paid.

Power comes from within. The bad news is you cannot convince anyone by pretending or using a certain means of speaking. The good news is that we all have power we can call forth if we learn how. And practicing a powerful state will, eventually call it forth. This power is more physical than intellectual and cultivating it will make it easy to assert yourself.
See my page with tips for encouraging respect for some easy ways to cultivate your personal power in ways that are respectful of others and encourage others to be respectful as well.

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