“Do not wait: the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work whatever tools you you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.” Napoleon Hill
Chapter 4 Using The Tools
Using these tools for Self-Awareness Building
The framework presented in this chapter, the passive – assertive – aggressive continuum, is a great tool for developing your self-awareness. It helps us understand the typical way we engage with the world around us, how we express our needs, get our needs met, and build relationships.
Utilize this table to reflect upon where you typically fall on this continuum.
|Definition||Communication style in which you put the rights of others before your own, minimizing your own self-worth||Communication style in which you stand up for your rights while maintaining respect for the rights of others||Communication style in which you stand up for your rights but you violate the rights of others|
|Implications to others||My feelings are not important
I don’t matter
I think I’m inferior
|We are both important
We both matter
I think we are equal
|Your feelings are not important
You don’t matter
I think I’m superior
Overly soft or tentative voice
|Nonverbal styles||Looking down or away
Stooped posture, excessive head nodding
Relaxed posture, smooth and relaxed movements
|Staring, narrow eyes
Tense, clenched fists, rigid posture, pointing fingers
|Potential consequences||Lowered self-esteem
Anger at self
False feelings of inferiority
Disrespect from others
Pitied by others
Respect from others
Respect of others
|Anger from others
Disrespect from others
Feared by others
Things to consider in this reflection:
- where do you think you fall on this continuum most regularly
- where do you want to fall on this continuum most regularly
- are there times or relationships where you are more passive, more aggressive, or more assertive. If so, what about those times or relationships lead to that
- are there times you would like to be more assertive
- what and where can you be more assertive in your daily life
- what are boundaries in my life that are most important
These points of reflection can help you identify strategies for developing and living a more assertive life. In order to be more assertive in your life and draw the appropriate boundaries in your relationships, you first and foremost need to understand what is truly important to you. In chapter 7 we will look at a framework to consider how to define what is core to who you are, and what is flexible, so for now just start this reflection process.
Using these tools for Other Awareness Building
The passive – assertive – aggressive continuum also allows us to understand where other people might fall on this continuum. You can ask yourself these questions to start understanding others:
- what behaviors do I see when I am in conflict with this person
- does this person shut down, lash out, or express themselves when in a stressful situation or conflict
- do I know what this persons needs or idea are
- does this person understand what my needs or ideas are
- how does this other person responds to you. If you are more passive or aggressive, how does that impact the other person
Gaining insight into yourself and the other person on this continuum help you better prepare for building strong relationships with the people around you.
Using these tools for Relationship Building
Strong relationships are built on solid boundaries, shared values, mutual understanding, and where each person understands and works to help meet the need of the other. An underlying principle of being assertive and setting boundaries is respect. Respecting yourself, respecting others, and respecting your relationship. The passive – assertive – aggressive continuum is an important framework in building strong relationships. In order for relationships to be productive and meaningful, we need to understand how we relate to one another. For example:
If one person is passive and the other is aggressive, the passive persons needs my not be met (in the worst version of this, their needs my be ignored) and the aggressive person my always get their needs met. Resentment can build in the passive person, they may feel like they don’t matter or that the other person doesn’t care about them. Frustration can build in the aggressive person, they aren’t sure what the other person wants or needs and feels like they are always guessing and failing. Resentment and frustration erode relationships.
This very common example happens in many relationships. When one persons needs get met, and the others doesn’t, when one person understands what the other wants and needs, but it isn’t reciprocated, we do not have a meaningful, productive, or sustainable relationship.
Putting this framework to use, with active listening, i-statements, effective questions, framing, and reframing gives us the greatest chance to build strong and lasting relationships, build on mutual respect and understanding.