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Assertiveness, show notes, episode 5

Assertiveness: one figure stands apart and speaks to the others

This was the fifth broadcast in our fifteen part series on emotional intelligence. We’re reviewing all fifteen dimension of the EQ-i2.0® model of EI by MHS. Assertiveness is the fifth competency and the second one in the Self-Expression composite and it relates to well being as well as directly to performance.

Here are some notes and links from the show. Please join us in two weeks, on Thursday September 24th at 9:30AM Pacific, for our next broadcast on Self-Expression, and we’ll discuss the next competency, Independence. Need a reminder? You can subscribe to our EQ and You reminders.


EQ Edge, 2011, by Steven J. Stein, Ph.D. and Howard E. Book, M.D.

Nonviolent Communication

“I message”

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes are High, Patterson, Grenny, McMillan & Switzler 2002
“Crucial Conversations, book notes” (PDF)

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Shelia Heen


Partial show notes

0:00 Introduction by David
0:35 David: I saw this message when I was young and I think it impacted me. It was this message, or bumper sticker, “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.” I think this was the kind of message that contributed to my choices to be quiet…
2:00 Kim: Growing up in my generation, we were immersed in culture of politeness, and silence…
2:30 David: Right, like that old maxim that children were meant to be seen and not heard…
3:00 Kim: Yeah, and there’s a thought among many Canadians that being assertive is being aggressive…
3:20 David: Yeah, it’s this idea that Canadians are polite…
3:45 David: It’s important to differentiate between assertiveness and emotional expression…
4:20 Kim: Yes, and if you lack assertiveness, you’re going to also need to pay attention to your self-awareness and self-management…
5:20 Kim: The other driving force in many of these contexts is what’s my desired outcome? It’s more than stating your point of view, it’s listening and inviting a response…
6:00 David: Yes, and an assertion is about what “I” would like to see. Like you say, it’s not blurting… it’s having a meta view and knowing where you want to go… it’s a contribution to a team process…
7:00 David: We’ve both heard people say “it’s the truth” or “it’s what’s honest” or something like that, and that can be aggressive and impactful there’s no excuse for this. This kind of blurting doesn’t further or deepen…
7:45 Kim: Yeah, if I’m paying attention to more than what is in my own head, if I’m noticing how what I’m saying is being received, than I can succeed in being assertive…
8:45 David: Yes, how are people behaving in response to your behaviour? This can signal that you’re causing harm, that you’re being aggressive… someone can think they’re being assertive, but really it’s aggression…
9:50 Kim: Yes, we don’t get to decide whether what we’re saying, or doing, is assertive or aggressive – others do…

10:20 David: …assertiveness has gotten a bad reputation… I struggle with assertiveness… in a relationship, assertiveness is very important… thoughts and opinions need to be flowing from both people in a relationship… not contributing your interests to a negotiation is an abdication of responsibility, and is probably not fair…
12:40 David: I’m speaking on behalf of all under-assertive people everywhere [laughs], not really…
12:10 Kim: [laughs] Your describing a slide into passive aggression… a tendency to withdraw… we value the contributions of others’ interests
14:00 David: As humans, we’re programmed to get our needs met… one way is through aggression… another way is through passivity, where you sit back and wait, or hope… another way is through negotiation, and this requires assertiveness…
15:40: Kim: …some people have “voices” or insecurities saying that others won’t approve of my thoughts… sometimes we need to review and dispute those voices, thoughts or feelings
16:30 David: Your describing self-regard, how we view ourselves in the world, that’s going to be hard to do. One reason we love this model of EQ is the interactions of these competencies… improving your assertiveness might require working on your self-regard…
17:10 Kim: And also to challenge the social view that people are full formed… we allow ourselves to be messy and to say here’s where I’m at right now and invite dialogue…
18:05 David: Yeah, and having a high score in impulse control can mean that sometimes you’re not speaking up in some contexts…
19:00 Kim: Sometimes in meetings, you can see the eyes roll and you know that people are holding back and not contributing…
19:45 David: …people need to take risks, and sometimes “feel the fear, and do it anyway”… things go more smoothly when we’re not being assertive, and this maintains the status quo and opportunities for progress and innovation are lost…
20:45 Kim: One way to practice this is to simply put it out there in a meeting that you don’t speak up very often and you’re outside of your comfort zone because something feels important for you…
21:45 David: …without assertiveness we can’t even begin to negotiate for our interests….
22:10 Kim: And as leaders we can create an open invitation to be assertive and role model assertiveness and reward assertiveness…
22:30 David: Yes, leaders in the command and control paradigm create contexts where assertiveness is not rewarded… there are ways to speak truth to power, but we could probably do another episode on that…
25:00 Kim: …and we all know someone who is assertive in a way that feels good to us… approach them and engage them in a conversation about how they do it…
26:00 David: let us know if you have stories or insights about our next episode on Independence…

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