This is group exercise provides a technique for dealing effectively with questions and remarks that are perceived as personally intrusive.

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1 Making Your Communication Stick Group Exercise This is group exercise provides a technique for dealing effectively with questions and remarks that are perceived as personally intrusive. Objectives By the end of this activity participants will: be familiar with the concepts of aggressive, passive and assertive responses to intrusive questions be able to distinguish between these responses be able to deal effectively with questions that are felt to be personally intrusive. Method Step 1: Introduce the activity. Assertive responses are not to be confused with aggressive responses. Assertive responses respect the rights of all concerned in an exchange and this activity will help participants to be clear about the true nature of assertive behavior. Step 2: Distribute Bill of Rights. Discuss the concepts of aggressive, passive and assertive behavior. Allow 15 minutes. Draw attention to the bill of rights and stress that the rights apply to both parties involved in any interaction (which means that the exercise of one person s rights must not negate or infringe on another s). Draw attention to the last right. If one felt obliged to be assertive all the time this itself could be seen as oppressive and thus a denial of rights. If you wish to give examples of each you could use the following. A boss asks her/his secretary to stay late. The secretary has already made arrangements for that evening. Possible responses to the boss are: Aggressive: "You re always so unreasonable! How can you expect me to drop everything at such short notice? You re the worst boss I ve ever worked for!" Passive: "Yes, of course" (then spends twenty minutes telephoning to undo arrangements and causing great inconvenience to several friends). Assertive: I know this is an important task, but I have made other arrangements for this evening. I will do it first thing in the morning Step 3: Distribute the Exercise and ask participants to work through it on their own.

2 Allow 10 minutes. The exercise is self-explanatory Step 4: As a complete group, direct the two statements from the Exercise to members of the group at random and ask each to give an aggressive response. Allow 10 minutes. Use each statement 5 or 6 times ensuring that everyone has a turn to respond. Get the group to comment on the responses and help participants to be clear about whether the response is truly aggressive or not. Look particularly for body language as well as for use of words. Statement 1 aggressive responses: "Tough!" "That s your problem, isn t it!" Statement 2 aggressive responses: "That s my business!" "Why should it?" Step 5: Repeat Step 4 but this time ask for passive responses. Allow 10 minutes and proceed as for Step 4. Statement 1 passive responses: "Yes, I know." "I m so sorry " Statement 2 passive responses: "I m afraid that is impossible." "Oh dear, I hadn t thought of that." Step 6: Repeat Step 4 but this time ask for assertive responses. Allow 10 minutes and proceed as for Step 4. Observe once again the body language being used. Assertive language can often be negated by passive or aggressive non-verbal behavior. Statement 1 assertive responses: "I know it will cause difficulty but I feel it s time I moved on." "I m sorry you feel that way but I do need a change." Statement 2 assertive responses: "No. My child care arrangements are very satisfactory." "No. I take my work responsibilities very seriously." Step 7: Relate the activity to an actual experience. Allow 20 minutes. Ask participants for any examples they may wish to share of recent exchanges at work or at home where they feel they have failed to be assertive, or conversely where they feel they have behaved assertively.

3 Questions you might ask Can you describe the experience? How did you feel afterward? If your response was non-assertive, how could you have responded more assertively? What experience do you have of assertive behavior in others? What view do you have of such people? Is anyone facing a situation in the future where they would like to be assertive? Why? Behavior Types Three contrasting behavior types may be identified in interpersonal relationships. Aggressive Aggressive behavior denies that other people have rights. It may be characterized by anger, hostility, bullying, shouting, threatening language and non-verbal behavior, abuse, and a wish to punish or humiliate. Some effects of aggressive behavior are: interpersonal conflict, subsequent guilt, frustration, poor self-image, lost opportunities, stress, feeling of being out of control, dislike of others, loneliness and isolation, anger. Many of these apply to both the aggressive person and the recipient. Passive Passive behavior denies one s own rights. It may be characterized by body language (e.g. downcast eyes), apologetic phrases, inappropriate acceptance of blame, use of phrases like "I wonder if," "Could you just," "I wonder if I could possibly," "Would you mind very much if " and "Of course, it s really not that important." The underlying belief is that other people s needs always take precedence; self-effacement is the order of the day. Some effects of passive behavior are: interpersonal conflict, depression, helplessness, poor self-image, hurting self, lost opportunities, stress, feeling of being out of control, dislike of self and others, loneliness and isolation, anger with self. Assertive Assertive behavior acknowledges one s own rights as well as those of other people. It may be characterized by confident body language (e.g. upright posture, good eye contact, a steady voice), and language that clearly articulates the speaker s needs while acknowledging that others have needs too. Assertive behavior enables a person to present ideas effectively in a confident and straightforward manner. It leaves the speaker satisfied that s/he has been true to "thine own self" and it leaves the receiver(s) clear about the speaker s needs yet does not feel

4 threatened. Some effects of assertive behavior are: solves problems, good feelings about self and others, feelings of satisfaction, is good to self and others, creation and maximization of opportunities, relaxed, calm, feelings of being in control of self. As you can see, aggressive and passive behavior patterns are counter-productive. They lead to breakdowns of communication and cause "side-effects." Assertive behavior patterns, on the other hand, can significantly enhance interpersonal communication and group effectiveness. A "Bill of Rights," which is commonly used in assertiveness training, is a valuable guide to identifying both your own and other people s rights. Bill of Rights Everyone has the right to be treated as an equal, regardless of gender, race, age or disability be treated as a capable human being say "no" without feeling guilty state how s/he feels and thinks without having to justify or make apologies (so long as this does not infringe on the rights of others) change her/his mind say s/he does not understand ask for information make mistakes (and take responsibility for them) take time to make decisions set her/his own priorities and make decisions ask for what s/he wants (while acknowledging that the other person has the right to say "no") decline to be responsible for other people s problems look after own needs, and to be alone if necessary choose how to behave/respond in a given situation, including the right to choose not to be

5 assertive. Exercise Imagine yourself on the receiving end of each of the two statements below. For each one, think of: an aggressive response a passive response an assertive response. Write in the spaces provided. Statement 1: "I hear you re looking for another job. That s really going to cause us a lot of trouble, you know." Aggressive response: Passive response: Assertive response: Statement 2: "I see you re a single parent. If we gave you this job doesn t that mean you ll be off work a lot?" Aggressive response: Passive response: Assertive response:

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