About Me

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Confidence Tricks

INSET - The amount of time I spent for gathering my confidence to be assertive at work today.

The idea of an assertiveness course brought a clear image to mind: a room of people, quacking in their jackets, cowering in corners and avoiding one another’s gaze – some kind of the AA thing (Apologetic Anonymous).

But as I walked into the training room, I found something very different. Instead of a quivering mass of humanity, I came face to face with a group of intelligent people. There’s a face of one unlikeable soul too. Why is she always in the same course with me?

The facilitator was babbling non stop. As the majority of this course participant, in fact all of them is female, the facilitator who is female herself used this opportunity to make some generalisation about men. ‘There are more men now that have started to see the attractions of an effective personal business style without sexism or condescension. For once, I thought she was talking about gay men. ‘It’s the difference between aggression and assertion’. Personally, I don’t like the word ‘assertive’. It sounds aggressive in itself. We want to be able to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty, to communicate constructively and to deal with the conflict. We want to be able to ask the question that everyone else in the room is too scared to ask. Hmmm...no wonder I’m here, mate.

Looking around in the room at the start of the day, I felt the apprehension of 15 people marooned on a desert island – they’d rather be somewhere else. What’s keeping me there is the assorted sandwich on that long table. I was rushing this morning; I didn't grab anything to eat. Luckily, the facilitator is an inspirational leader and it did not take long for the ice to break and the sense of camaraderie to develop. With the aid of posters, marker pens and diagrams we were soon discussing different method of behaviour, how effective we felt we were at work, and whether we could give and take criticism graciously. We exercised and did a bit of role playing (I prefer to call it practising situations) and this, played an important part.

The most powerful lesson of the day is how to say no to people and really mean it. That made me think of how often I preface it with ‘I’m really sorry but...’ or ‘I would love to but...’. We were thought to say the word without squirming or smiling, without apologising or explaining the reason, unless it was professionally necessary. It took a lot of hard work, but by the end of the afternoon we were feeling a lot more positive about being negative. I can now stride confidently towards the tube, glaring at taxi drivers who dare to threaten my personal space.

I’ll certainly be putting it to test, my new assertive self to test. But, can I do it though?

Visit Malaysia ? Must not miss the affordable Hotel Armada Petaling Jaya.

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