Episode #70: Assertiveness Training

Dr. Connie Omari:

Dr. O is here with a training on assertiveness. Training for assertiveness is basically going to be useful because it’s going to stop some of this behavior that I call black or white thinking. So basically, people think they either have to, you know, hate a person or behave very poorly with a person in an intense way, or in a less intense way, which we’re going to talk about in this training, or they think that they just don’t need to be in a relationship with the person at all.

And a lot of times, people don’t understand what the healthy medium is in conflict resolution. So that is why it’s going to be important today for me to go over this material with you. Okay, so being assertive is that nice, happy peace in the middle; it is the place where you respect both yourself and the rights of other people, okay, that we should all strive for. Anytime we’re in a situation where we feel uncomfortable or disappointed.

The challenge is that, a lot of times, we don’t know how to sit there because we get confused with the other variables that are often going on in the back of our heads. So one of those is being aggressive, right? So we know that being aggressive is going to include things like name-calling, of course, being physically aggressive, being emotionally negligent, like withdrawing, hiding, or keeping away from the people, or the person, whoever it is, that’s giving you the problem that all of those things can be aggressive because they are strong, intense reactions that violate other people. So you might feel like it helps you, but if it violates you, it hurts the other person. So that’s being aggressive. Now, being passive is the exact opposite of being aggressive.

And that is when you withdraw so much that it might help the other person, but it might not help you. So I think when I think about that, it’s just an example that comes to mind: I know somebody who’s a little overweight, you know, and people might tease them, which is not appropriate either because that person is being aggressive, right? The person who was teasing the person for being overweight is the aggressive person, but the passive person, rather than, you know, say, Well, you ugly, you know, or I will tell you what I tell my kid at the end it a little bit, but I just want to make the point first, the passive person is going to kind of withdraw and not say anything back.

So, what happens when you do that is that you accept the other person’s rights, you respect their rights, but then you fall back on your own. So let me just tell you this: I get to share it because my daughter, you know, she’s four years old, and she’s, you know, on the heavier side, but she’s finally getting to the age where it’s a little sensitive to be calling her fat. So yall, I’m calling my baby fat because she’s not, and she really isn’t; she’s built like her mother, which is, you know, full and unhealthy. But she is not fat. So we’re not going to call it that, but she did tell me that somebody called her fat. And I’m not gonna lie; I was not using my assertiveness training and skills at that time. So I told him, I said, Well, you tell them that, you can be fat, but they’ll always be ugly, you know, because that was my way of just clapping back. And making it very clear that you’re not going to be bullying my little girl. But anyway, to clarify, this isn’t about, you know, kids and the drama and stuff that they go through.

This is really about making sure that you’re putting your best foot forward in your relationships with people. So aggressive is when, when you’re being too intense, you accept the other person’s rights but violate your own. And being passive—I’m sorry, I’m sorry—the aggressive person is concerned about themselves and they violate other people; the passive person is going to be concerned about the other person, but they violate themselves. And that’s the case of the person who’s bullying you because you’re overweight and the passive person, you know, not saying anything back or maybe crying about it, etc. But there’s a final behavior. This one, I think, is probably as much if not more, so seen in the aggressive. When I definitely say I see aggressive behavior the most when people are upset, just you know, cutting below the belt, saying insensitive things, name-calling, hitting, whatever, I do see that the most unfortunately, but the next most common one is really being passive aggressive. So that’s when you’re passive in the moment, you know, but should you turn around and do something aggressive? When I think about this, I think about, you know, let’s say somebody makes you upset, and you don’t say anything; you just kind of do a low-key, you know, okay, you know, whatever; you don’t stand up for yourself, and you definitely don’t, you know, rock the boat in that moment. But then you go behind that person’s back and you put sugar in their tank in their car, something like that. That’s really aggressive.

And it looks like you didn’t do anything; you will be passive, but ultimately you were passively aggressive because you came up with a follow-up and did something kind of shady. So, these are just a few tips that will help you, but listen, the important thing is that we want to be that nice sweet spot right in the middle, and that’s called being assertive. It includes things like being confident, doing things with purpose, being intentional, and being respectful of both your rights and the other person’s rights. It really gets a problem solved in a way that everyone can leave amicably and everyone can feel respected. All right, so this was a quick assertiveness training delivered directly from Dr. O to you. If you have any questions or would like to work with me or someone in my practice, please contact us.