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Assertiveness and Conflict Management: Background and Techniques


Conflict Management:  
Background and Techniques
ow to be assertive and manage conflict on the HCHC campus. 

Athina-Eleni G. Mavroudhis, M.S.




  • Thank the group for inviting me back and giving me the opportunity to present on Assertiveness and Conflict Management.
  • Important for females to be assertive and be able manage conflict especially in a pre-dominantly male campus such as HCHC. 
  • Can you think of a situation, either on or off-campus, where being more assertive would have helped you in better managing a conflict? 



Asserting Yourself 

Definition: What is Assertiveness and what does being Assertive mean?

  • ��expressing personal rights and feelings.��
  • ��an attitude and a way of acting in any situation where you need to:
    • express your feelings
    • ask for what you want
    • say no to something you don��t want

Why is it important to be assertive?

  • how you interact with others can be a source of considerable stress in your life.
    • Can alleviate stress and make you feel more relaxed.
    • Develop self-respect and self-worth.



      Lacking Assertiveness  

What causes a lack in Assertiveness?

  • If you are phobic or anxiety-prone you might have difficulty making requests or saying no to family members or close friends.
  • Growing up in a family where you felt the need to be perfect and please your parents, you��ve remained a ��People Pleaser�� as an adult.

What does lacking Assertiveness cause:

  • Doing things you don��t want to do creates RESENTMENT, which in turn produces tension which is the source of conflict in your relationships.



Mistaken Traditional Assumptions 

  • Distribute Mistaken Traditional Assumptions Handout and discuss certain items. 
  • How you were taught to deal with conflict by teachers, parents, grown ups while growing up. Have you ever encountered any of these before?
    • It is selfish to put your needs before others�� needs.
    • It is shameful to make mistakes.  You should have the appropriate response for every occasion.
    • If you can��t convince others that your feelings are reasonable, then they must be wrong, or maybe you��re going crazy!

What can I do to become more assertive?  

  • Assertiveness Training (AT)
  • Learning to be Assertive



Assertiveness Training 

What is it?

  • The goal of assertiveness training is to increase the number and variety of situations in which assertive behavior is possible, and decrease occasions of passive collapse or hostile blowup.

AT is found to be effective in dealing with:

  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Interpersonal Anxiety



Assertiveness Training Examples 

You are assertive when:  

  • You stand up for your rights in such a way that the rights of others are not violated.
  • Beyond just demanding your rights, you can express your personal likes and interests spontaneously.
  • You can talk about yourself without being self-conscious.
  • You can accept compliments comfortably.
  • You can disagree with someone openly.
  • You can ask for clarification.
  • You can say No!
  • You can be more relaxed in interpersonal situations.



Assertiveness Training (AT) Process 

    The first step in AT is to identify the 3 basic styles of interpersonal behavior.  

  1. Aggressive Style
  2. Passive Style
  3. Assertive Style
  • Distribute What��s Your Style Handout 



1) Aggressive Style 

  • Typical examples of aggressive behavior: fighting, accusing, threatening, and generally stepping on people without regard for their feelings.
  • The advantage of this kind of behavior is that people do not push the aggressive person around.
  • The disadvantage is that people do not want to be around him or her.

2) Passive Style 

  • A person is behaving passively when he lets others push him around, when he does not stand up for himself, and when he does what he is told, regardless of how he feels about it.
  • The advantage of being passive is that you rarely experience direct rejection or conflict with others.
  • The disadvantage is that you are taken advantage of, and you store up a heavy burden which could lead to internal conflict that could manifest itself in resentment and anger.

3) Assertive Style 

  • A person is behaving assertively when she stands up for herself, expresses her true feelings, and does not let others take advantage of her. At the same time, she is considerate of others�� feelings.
  • The advantage of being assertive is that you get what you want, usually without making others mad.
  • If you are assertive, you can act in your own best interest and not feel guilty or wrong about it.
  • Meekness and withdrawal, attack and blame are no longer needed with the mastery of assertive behavior.
  • They are seen for what they are – sadly inadequate strategies of escape that create more pain and stress that they prevent. Before you can achieve assertive behavior you must face the fact that the passive and aggressive styles have often failed to get you what you want.

Learning to be Assertive 

    Learning to be Assertive involves working on yourself, in 6 distinct areas:

  1. Developing Non-Verbal Assertive Behaviors
  2. Recognizing and being willing to exercise your basic rights as a human being
  3. Becoming aware of your own unique feelings, needs and wants.
  4. Practicing assertive responses– first through writing and role-playing and then in real life.
  5. Assertiveness on the Spot
  6. Learning to say NO!

1. Developing Nonverbal Assertive Behaviors 

  • Looking directly at another person when addressing them.
    • Looking away conveys the message that you��re not quite sure about asking for what you want.
  • Maintaining an open rather than closed posture.
    • Uncross legs and arms.
  • Do not back off or move away from the other person while in dialogue.
    • The expression: ��Standing your ground.�� really applies here.
  • Stay calm.
    • Avoid angry outbursts.



2. Recognizing and Exercising Your Basic Rights 

  • Distribute Personal Bill of Rights Handout.
  • Developing assertiveness involves recognizing that you, just as much as anyone else, have a right to all of the things listed under the Personal Bill of Rights.
  • Read through the PBR and reflect on your willingness to believe in and exercise each one.

3. Becoming Aware of Your Own Unique Feelings, Needs, and Wants 

  • Need to be clear about:

    1) What it is you��re feeling.

    2) What it is you want or don��t want. 

    • If your feeling confused or ambivalent about your wants or needs, take time to clarify them first by writing them out or talking them out with a supportive friend and/or counselor.
      • Need to make your needs known.  Other people are not ��mind readers.��



    4. Practicing Assertive Responses 

    • Describe your problem situation.
      • Specify the ��who,�� ��when,�� ��what,�� ��how,�� the ��fear,�� and the ��goal.��
    • Develop an Assertive Response
      1. Evaluate your rights within the situation.

         Refer back to the Bill of Rights

      1. Designate a time for discussing what you want.

         Find a mutually convenient time to discuss the problem with the other person involved.

      1. Address the main person involved, state the problem in terms of its consequences for you.

         Don��t expect others to be mind readers.  Clearly outline your point of view objectively.



    4. Practicing Assertive Responses continued�� 

      4) Express your feelings about the particular situation.

        • First person statements (I felt sad��.) acknowledge your responsibility for your feelings while second person statements (You said��.) generally accuse or judge. 

      5) Make your request for changing the situation.

      • Use assertive nonverbal behavior.
        • Establish eye contact, maintain open posture, stay calm.
      • Keep request simple.
      • Avoid asking for multiple things.
      • Be specific.
      • Don��t apologize for your request.
      • Make requests, not demands or commands.

      6) Tell this person the consequences of gaining (or not gaining) his or her cooperation.



    5. Assertiveness on the Spot 

    • Many daily situations arise that challenge you to be assertive spontaneously.
    • Assertive on the Spot Steps:
      1. Evaluate your rights.
      2. Make your requests.

        ��I would like��.��

         Statement needs to be:


               -Simple and to the point

               -Without apology

               -Nonjudgmental, non-blaming

               -Always a request, not a demand

               -Use a monotonous, non-aggressive tone if dealing with a       stranger and/or adult.

      1. State the problem in terms of its consequences.
      2. Express your feelings.
      3. State the consequences of gaining (or not gaining) cooperation.

      Distribute On-the-Spot Assertiveness Exercise


    6. Learning to Say NO 

    • Saying no means that you set limits on other people��s demands for your time and energy when such demands conflict with your own needs and desires.  It also means you can do this without feeling guilty.
    • Saying No to aggressive individuals requires making statement stronger and more emphatic:
      1. Look directly in the eyes
      2. Raise the level of your voice slightly
      3. Assert your position:  ��I said no thank you.��

    6.  Learning to Say No continued... 

    • Dealing with acquaintances, friends, and family sometimes requires us to give an explanation:
      1. Acknowledge the other person��s request by repeating it.
      2. Explain your reason for declining.
      3. Say ��no.��
      4. If appropriate, suggest an alternative proposal where both your and the other person��s needs will be met.
    • Watch out for guilt.
      • Might be tough at first.

    Conflict Management 

    • What is Conflict?
      • Conflict is a ��creative opportunity��
      • a chance to reexamine a problem and come up with a novel solution.
    • Conflict is a natural part of the college life process, especially when people are living in close quarters.

    Ways to Manage Conflict 

    1. Expect conflicts to happen and don��t be overwhelmed by them.
    2. Recognize perspectives are not right or wrong, but they definitely can be different.
    3. Chill out.
      • Before you confront someone about a conflict, make sure you��re calm enough to have an intelligent conversation.
    4. Figure out what you want, then consider your options. 
      • Is it realistic and practical?
    5. Make time and space for conversation.
    6. Tell your full side, then listen to other person.
    7. Brainstorm Solutions. 
      • Write down many ideas to resolves the conflict.



    Ways to Manage Conflict continued�� 

    1. Go for a win-win and then check in.
      • Look for ways that both people can benefit from a resolution. 
      • After coming up with a solution, set up a time to check in with the other person to make sure that things are working out for both or you.
    2. Recognize that electronic communication is tricky.
      • E-mail or IM may be misinterpreted or insulting to send to someone living in close quarters.

      10)    Watch out for the Conflict ��Triangle.��

        Make sure the ��friend�� you talk to won��t spread rumors or make the situation worse.

      11)     Ask for help.

        * Mediation Services offered by OSL and SF/CS.

      12)     Recognize that the only person you can change is yourself.

        * As much as you��d like to fix your friend��s annoying habits, the only person you can control is YOU.

        * Improve your communication skills.

        * Do your best to stand up for your needs while being kind and respectful (Assertiveness). 



    The End 

    Thank you!! 

    Questions and Answers??

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