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You can’t make people assertive by just training them some techniques

by Stephan Moons

Well, it might work… for a very short time.

Provided that you are a persuasive and inspiring trainer, and that during your training session your students have witnessed you demonstrating the ideal way to do it, they might saddle their horses, load their guns, follow your example and face their boss/spouse/nasty neighbour in real life.

But then again, the least resistance might trigger the old fears and make your freshly empowered student retreat faster than he dared to enter - let’s say - his boss’ office.

A raise? Are you completely out of your mind! There’s no money, and who says you deserve it anyway?
Sorry to bother you boss… Just joking.
Well, it ain’t funny!

Lesson learned! Better stay iHumble for the rest of my days…

Behaviour is powered by motives, and our motives are a unique blend of emotions and convictions. Convictions can be based on real facts and figures, but many times we just conjure them up in our creative minds. There they act as imposters and saboteurs on our path to success (whatever form success takes for you…)

I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong. - Bertrand Russell

When I used to offer options for more assertiveness during training courses students would often react in the following fashion:

  • That’s easy for you to do.
  • Yeah, but that won’t work for us!
  • If we would do this… 
    (Fill out your preferred disaster: shot, fired, called an idiot, stunned by a laser gun…)
  • Our clients are different. They will never accept this.
    (What a blessing to live in a world of absolute certainties!)

In the face of these combative ‘conviction soldiers’ the last thing you want to do, is start a discussion and try to persuade your students with your iron-cast solutions. Why? Because, why on earth would people give up on their life saving certainties???

Start with motives first and then work on behaviour!

But bear in mind that you are inviting people to question ‘their’ strategies ‘they’ have carefully developed to create ‘their’ own certainty and safety. Proceed with caution or you might be feeding their imaginary imposters and saboteurs… and make them stronger than before.

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