By Stephanie Holland, Clare Ward

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John never openly challenged Brian's work but sometimes used a stream of sarcastic jokes and put-downs instead. " Normally Brian would have laughed weakly, but inside he felt hurt and this time he tried to challenge John. " John looked affronted. " Brian felt guilty but he was not sure why; perhaps John was only joking after all. As John walked away he shook his head, thinking about how sensitive some people were, completely failing to recognise his own indirect aggression. Assertion The key to assertive behaviour is feeling good about ourselves.

In order to illustrate the power of the rights message we have used clients' own examples of demonstrating their right to be assertive: 1 I Have the Right To Be Treated with Respect As an Equal Human Being Although this right appears fundamental, unfortunately we live in a very unequal world which rates some people as better than others for all sorts of reasons. Alberti and Emmons write about this in their book, Your Perfect Right, and give a list of generally accepted assumptions: Men are better than women Adults are better than children Whites are better than blacks Bosses are better than employees To this list we would add the following: Doctors are better than patients Fluent speakers are better than stammerers Able-bodied people are better than the disabled Heterosexuals are better than homosexuals Well people are better than the ill Therapists are better than their clients The list is endless.

Examples of this are given in Appendix I. As facilitators, we always join in both the opening and closing exercises, sharing our own experiences and feelings. This is a really positive way of modelling equality within the group, and demonstrates that our own learning is continuous. Page 1 1 Introduction to Assertiveness Assertiveness and You Assertiveness training looks deceptively easy. To put it simply, it is a form of behaviour therapy with an extremely powerful message, which needs to be handled with respect.

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Assertiveness by Stephanie Holland, Clare Ward
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