Assertiveness by Stephanie Holland, Clare Ward

By Stephanie Holland, Clare Ward

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The assistant was left feeling bewildered and hurt as June stormed off to eat her meal, failing to recognise the real reason for her aggressive outburst. Indirect Aggression This behaviour often results from the fear which exists within our culture of being openly aggressive. Indirect aggression is often seen as the softer option, but in fact its effect can be just as devastating, involving the manipulation of others, through guilt and emotional blackmail. Whereas being the victim of open aggression can be likened to being attacked Page 5 by a bulldozer, suffering indirect aggression is like being fired at by a sniper: the weapon hits home just as hard, but there is no trace of the attacker.

Standing up for our rights and expressing our needs is done with consideration for the other person's rights and needs, resulting in equal communication. This approach shuns the win/lose idea, and works instead towards a situation of mutual compromise, where both parties feel acknowledged. As our self-esteem is high, we are more able to admit to our faults and mistakes without feeling totally devastated. Confrontation and criticism can be handled honestly without resorting to defensiveness. We can allow ourselves to take risks and make choices based on our own feelings and needs.

It is useful at this stage to consider the techniques that we use during the course, as we will be making reference to them throughout the book. We find it helpful to follow the same format for every session: Opening exercise, sharing and feedback; Facilitator's input and discussion; Role-play and feedback; Closing exercise. Opening exercise the way we start every session is to ask people to share one positive Page xiii and one negative experience, and to identify what this has taught them about themselves.

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