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On Being Assertive

By Jurriaan Plesman BA(Psych), Post Grad Dip Clin Nutr

 

To benefit from this program it is essential that the reader is familiar with “Transactional Analysis” and “How to Improve One’s Self-image” listed in the “Psychotherapy” section. Awareness of a possible underlying metabolic disorder that may affect behaviour should first be attended to.

People with a negative self-image are at risk to use this assertiveness program in a manipulative way – if they aim at playing the game: “I win, you lose”. Reading Eric Berne’s book “Games People Play” will also be helpful.

Assertiveness training strives to resolve conflict between people, unlike the conflicts within the self characteristic in people with a negative self-image.

Social conflicts are more likely to arise among the more intimate and significant relationships, such as among friends, lovers and family members, than with strangers. Much of this is related to one’s self-image. Thus people with a low self-esteem are more likely to experience social conflict, whilst people with a positive self-image are better able to succeed is satisfying other people’s basic needs in close relationships. The aim in assertiveness is finding a solution to conflict that is satisfactory to both parties: the ‘Win Win’ situation.

The principles of assertiveness training falls neatly within the boundaries of what is known as Rational Cognitive Therapy.

This is explained in the following illustration.

 

 

Some psychologists, known as behaviourists, view human behaviour as a series of stimulus-response reactions whereby certain specific responses take precedence over other responses through a process of learning. Certain reactions are established because they were rewarded. Most of these learned responses – or behaviour – become habitual and automatic.

Just as well: our daily activities would be burdened with constant mental exercises, if we were to figure out every move we made.

This is obvious when we look at our daily routines; we tend to unlock a door with either the right or left hand, we tend to shave first the right cheek and then the chin, or write letters with the right or left hand. All this takes place without much conscious awareness. Behaviourists tend to overlook the intervening mental variables between stimulus and response as shown in the above illustration.

In cognitive therapy the kind of automatic responses we make depend very much on the attitudes and beliefs we have within our mind. An attitude is defined as a semi-permanent response or a tendency to act or feel in response to a stimulus. Thus a person with a negative self-image – a person having a constant stream of negative thoughts about oneself – is more likely to suffer from depression. A person ‘who hates women’ is likely to react to women in a different way from people who regard women more kindly. Racist reactions, or judgments towards certain classes of people are determined by stereotypical attitudes held within the little blue box of the mind.

Cognitive therapy (also called Rational Emotive Therapy) applies particularly to the problem of endogenous depression. Endogenous depression – caused from ‘within’ – must be distinguished from the kind of depression caused by some external event, such as the loss of a loved one. It is when the sufferer cannot identify the cause of his depression with anything in his environment that we are probably dealing with endogenous depression. This is a serious disorder and should be discussed with a health professional. The metabolic aspect of such depression must be a first consideration: it could be related to Hypoglycemia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Coeliac Disease, Hypothyroidism, malabsorption of some vital vitamins and minerals, such as B12 or folic acid. It is only then we should consider the series of negative thought processes that may intervene in our reactions to the environment. Foremost among these is our negative self-image which appear to be the root cause of such depression.

THE PRINCIPLE OF IMPERFECTION

This is clearly demonstrated when people hold the belief that they should be perfect in whatever they do. They are usually called ‘perfectionists’. Perfectionism could be traced back to a negative self-image, which says that “I should be better than what I am”. Nevertheless, the world may be thankful to the perfectionists in mathematics and science.
Perfectionists often are not only critical of themselves, but tend to transfer this to others as well, leading to perhaps intolerance of other people’s foibles.

The belief: “I am entitled to be imperfect as a human being” is important in assertiveness training as will become clear later on. Perfectionism stems from the belief “I should be perfect”, which implies that “we can be perfect”. But the possibility of “I am perfect” is nonsense. If we humans were perfect, than all humans should be the same, we should be clones of one another. So we are all Gods! As this is obviously false it must be the case that we are all different from one another. In fact this leads to a healthy belief that we HAVE A RIGHT TO BE IMPERFECT!
If true, then we also have a right to have problems and a right to be different. The human quality of tolerance – acceptance of differences among our fellow creatures – is characteristic of civilization. Without this tolerance, modern democratic societies would not be possible. Nor would intimate social relations.

In fact, Thomas Hobbes’ belief that men are basically “poor, nasty, brutish, and short” – a very negative view of humankind – lead him to accept that humans could only be happy if they lived under a dictatorship.

A dynamic society consists of the robust, the shy, the sensitive, the creative, the inventive and entrepreneurial – all of whom have intrinsic values.

The acceptance of uniqueness of individuals – stemming from the principles of imperfection – becomes important in such significant relationships as marriage. The belief that “You should be like me” denies the unique identity of partners in marriage. The same happens when we depersonalize partners by assigning roles to individuals, such as “As a husband you should……” and as “As a wife you should…….”. Notice that such notions derive from the PARENT EGO STATE, thus they are PC messages!

The aim of assertiveness training is either to replace negative PARENT messages with more positive ones, or channel communication to the adult level – thus AA transactions!
In summary, we must learn to assert our right to be imperfect by abolishing – by constant repetition and supported by logic – the habit of thought that somehow we should be perfect. This fundamental right of imperfection does not conflict with our endeavours to IMPROVE ourselves.

The “O-O” LINE

In the article “How to Improve One’s Self-Image” it is claimed that you can change one’s self-image in a relatively short period of time. However, unforeseen problems may arise, because significant others usually have a well-defined image of you – negative or positive – based on your past behaviour. This is shown in the following illustration:

 

Thus others may continue to react to you, arising from their experience of you in the past.
Generally, a negative experience has a more lasting imprint on a person’s mind than a positive experience. You may be considered a nice guy in a work situation, but one slip of behaviour, one bout of unexpected aggression, one session of drunkenness is sometimes very difficult to erase from your reputation.

The “O” refers to the “old self-image”, which is projected into the future on the horizontal line from left to right.

The “now” refers to the present situation, the point when you have learned a new image – new behaviour – whilst significant others still have you on the “O-O” line.

The strategy is to get people to think in the here and now, and into the future. Try to get people to think of what is going on now.

For instance: “ If you want to criticize me, please criticize me for what I do now, and not for what I might have done in the past.” Try to get an agreement with significant others to stay in the here and now, although it would be difficult for most people to get off the “O-O” line.

Watch out for the words ‘always’ and ‘never’, as in “you always do….so and so”. These are reminders for unresolved grievances.

It is not surprising that many recovering alcoholics and drug-addicts escape from the present conflict situation by “doing a geographical”. This may be helpful in therapy, whilst new more beneficial habits of thoughts are being established in a different environment. Many rehabilitation centres insist on a temporary separation of their clients from their family members. Others bring in the family members to participate in therapy. This usually was encouraged in my therapy group sessions when some members of the family or other significant others were keen to join the group.

PRINCIPLES OF RESPONSIBILITY

Assertive people firmly believe that they alone are responsible for their own happiness, thus:

“I am responsible for my happiness and feelings”

from this it follows:

“Nobody in the world can make me either happy or unhappy”
Therefore, it would not be difficult to adopt the principle that “I should not have to depend on other people to make me either happy or unhappy.”

“Only if I am happy, then I can be response-able (able to respond) to the needs of other people”

Understanding this principle requires some thought. They need to be ‘tossed about’, criticized and justified before you can adopt them as your own. The more time your give yourself to think about them, the more you will start to accept them as your own, though perhaps in a slightly different version. In the end, this meditation becomes an automatic thought process, and as a result you will become more assertive automatically.
Thus a responsible and mature person relies on his own social skills to satisfy his basic physical and social needs.

Many parents feel guilty when they see their teenagers go off the rail; get involved with drugs or come into conflict of the law. Under the influence of psycho-analysis which states that behaviour is mainly determined by the family upbringing they have come to believe that they – as parents – are responsible for their children’s behaviour. Their feelings of guilt will only serve to reinforce the child’s conviction that they are not responsible for their behaviour. “What do you expect with parents like that?”

Parents will just have to learn that their parental influence is ineffective after a child reaches a certain age. They could have been worse parents, and the teenager is still responsible for their behaviour, despite the parents.

At the more extreme end of the spectrum we find some individuals, who depend entirely on others for their ‘happiness’. This is natural among children who depend on parents for their basic needs. It becomes pathological when a person with the maturity of a six year old child walks around in the body of a grown-up man and is faced with the loss of his wife. This may have disastrous consequences with a threat of suicide, placing others at risk as well.

Manipulation

Non-assertive people have to learn how to deal with manipulative people. A manipulative person is primarily a nonassertive person and not a ‘straight-talker’.
Here is a definition:

Manipulation means getting another person to do things against their will, by making them feel wanting to be loved,  feel guilty, stupid, silly or by assigning a role to them.

In other words if you have hang-ups you can easily be manipulated. If you are in dire need of love and affection, common to many people with a low self-esteem, you could be made to do things that you might regret later on.

Depersonalization – dropping a label on somebody – refers to you being classified into a role, which puts cultural pressures on you to act in a certain way.

“Paul, as a husband, you should buy flowers for your wife”, where Paul is now classified into a husband, and we all know that all good husband always buy flowers for their wife!

Think of the roles we play: husband, wife, son, daughter, grand-mother, uncle, schoolteacher, professor, lawyer, doctor, women, men, supervisor, boss and worker, manager, friend….and the list is unending. Each role seems to have a complementary role; for example “teacher and student”, “doctor and patient” “husband and wife”, “counsellor and client” and so on.

All these roles carry with them some expectation of “appropriate’ behaviour that require us to behave in a certain way.

Notice that the message “As a husband, wife etc you should…” all derive from the PARENT EGO state.

Playing roles in organisations with an hierarchical structure as in most work situations or the army may have its advantages. It provides a strict sequence of commands from the top to the bottom and contributes to cohesion. However, edicts emanating from the top can be also be misinterpreted down the line. When Stalin ordered to crush the kulaks’ resistance to his agrarian policies, soldiers down the line could well have understood this to mean executing them.

Manipulation by way of role playing is sometimes difficult to resist:

“As a s friend you ought to lend me your car” is a familiar manipulative situation, especially if you don’t want to lend your car to anybody.
The strategy is to get the manipulator to express what he wants from you.
If the manipulator would have been assertive he would say: “I would like you to lend me your car”.

We simply have to learn to say “NO”.

A manipulator would probably try: “Why not?”.

He puts pressure on us to explain in a way that assumes that we actually know and understand our feelings at all times. But being imperfect we have a right not to know everything about ourselves. The truth is much of our feelings cannot be explained and we could simply answer: “I don’t know why”.

HOW TO HANDLE CRITICISM AND OTHER DIFFICULT SITUATIONS

Please have in mind that assertiveness training aims at resolving conflict situations between significant people who want to live in peace and harmony. As mentioned before, many of the techniques mentioned here can be abused by people who like to play games: “I win, you lose!”, which derive primarily from a negative self-image. These unfortunate individuals will probably make more enemies out of these games, thereby reinforcing their hang-ups.

If you have an attitude: “I win, you win”, you will be truly assertive and enjoy satisfying relationships.

Negative emotive terms

One way of putting people down is by using what I call negative emotive terms. Most adjectives carry with them either “good”, “neutral” or “bad” feelings. For example: “You are lazy” carries negative feeling whereas “You are brave” sounds warm and cuddly.

Thus:

Positive “You’re a victim of economic circumstances”
Neutral “You are unemployed”
Negative “You are a dole-bludger”

These sentences express the same idea of unemployment, but each has a an emotional flavour colouring the feelings of the speaker. Obviously, his moral super-ego (his PARENT) is involved.

One can practise recognizing “negative emotive terms” by reading newspapers, or listening to the debates in parliament, by underlining or ticking off negative emotive terms used in articles and debates. If you are not certain that a person uses negative emotive terms, add the rider: “and you don’t approve!!”.  This is also known as Ad Hominem Arguments, a technique of diverting attention away from the real debate and attacking the author instead of the subject matter.

The strategy in discussion is to translate the negative emotive terms into a neutral one or else by pointing out that the speaker does not like or approve of the event being described.
The use of negative emotive terms in disputes between loved ones can be devastating and usually cannot be resolved until such times as the parties learn to use more neutral and accurate descriptions of behaviour that cause the conflict.

“FOGGING”

A major technique of dealing with a criticism isto create a fog – a white cloud – that is difficult to target to hit. Some of the terms used are borrowed from Smith, MJ (1975), WHEN I SAY NO, I FEEL GUILTY, A Bantam Book, a very readable book.
For example:

“Paul, your shirt is dirty”
Paul: “Maybe you are right”
“Probably true”
“Perhaps I could improve”
“Sometimes this happens to the best of people”

Paul is neither agreeing, nor disagreeing, in fact he is saying nothing. Perhaps he is asserting his right to be imperfect!
When you listen to a scientific debate opponents regularly fog, neither agreeing or disagreeing with a proposition and often followed by a “but…”.

“Super-fogging”

This is an extension of fogging. When your critic really intends putting you down, to vent his anger about something, you could take the wind out of his sails by super-fogging:

“Paul, your shirt is dirty”
Paul: “Perhaps you may have a point (fogging), but if you look at my trousers (shoes or whatever), they could also be a little dirty”.

Inviting criticism

He could go even further by actually asking the critic:

“Is there anything else about me that worries you?”

If you feel that your critic harbours some grievances that he seems reluctant to express it may be worthwhile to bring this into the open, so that it could be resolved through further discussion. Asking your critic straight out what worries him about you.

Broken Record

Sometimes people won’t listen to you as to what you want. This can be very frustrating and sometimes you become very angry, and bang! They got you. Now you are the unreasonable person and you can be ignored!
‘Broken record’ comes from the idea when a needle in a gramophone record is stuck in the groove and it keeps on repeating endlessly. By repeating calmly your request the other person is bound to listen. For example:

Paul: “I would like to have my car repaired”
Mechanic: “We have no time to-day”
Paul: “May be you have no time to-day (fogging), but I would like to have my car repaired”.
Mechanic; “The suppliers have not sent the parts for your car” (Passing the buck).
Paul: “May be the suppliers have not sent the parts, but I would like to have my car repaired”.

Playing back a tape

This powerful technique helps you to get people to listen to you, when somehow the message gets lost in the debate. Imagine your are two tape-recorders and one tape recorder says to the other: “Please play back your tape?” so that you can check whether the message has been received. For example:

A husband might say to the wife:
Paul: “I love you”
Wife: “But you always go to the pub”

The wife refuses to hear the message and all too often the husband may storm out and actually go to the pub, frustrated and angry.

This is called a rejection game, which was discussed previously in the section dealing with “Transactional Analysis” where one party to a dispute elicits the kind of reaction in the other, that “proves” the very thing that is complained about.

Often by asking the other person to repeat an actual message, may resolve that problem. Thus:

Paul: “I get the impression that you did not hear what I said to you. Could you please repeat what I said?”

The wife may have got it right and say:
“Yes, you said you love me”.
Paul: “Do you believe it?”
Wife: “NO!”

And this is exactly where the problem is!

Shooting the messenger

A popular technique among politicians is to attack the messenger instead of considering the issue under discussion. This is not uncommon in a closely knit community or group such as a family, especially when emotions run high. It is easy to dismiss an argument by demeaning a person in a debate. Some messages may be dismissed because the messenger has not got the qualifications – the expertise – entitling him to express an opinion, as if only qualified people can give opinions. Here “fogging” could be an appropriate strategy, followed by a repetition of the original message. “Shooting the messenger” is usually a sign that the opponent cannot accept the fundamental assumption (major premise) of he messenger.

Using the pecking order in an organisation

It is often frustrating dealing with members of a large organisation, where your request is being passed on from one to another in that organisation. This is particular so in the public service where officials may treat you just one of the numbers. They have unlimited control and power over you because of the position they hold. But each organisation has a ‘pecking order’, whereby the person you are dealing with is answerable to a person in higher authority.

Thus:
• Ask the name of the person you are dealing with. This alone may be a threat.
• Ask the name of the person one rank above.

As in:

“May be you do not have the authority to make a decision in my case. Perhaps I should speak to your superior who might have the authority. Could you please give me his/her name?”

Other strategies might be to contact the ombudsman, parliamentary representative etc.
Remember most authority figures are in a hierarchical power relationship with other authority figures. A strict pecking order as in a brood of chicken provides a sense of security among its members. It is a question of climbing the ladder and finding the person with power who can help you with your problem. Writing a letter to the Queen may be the wrong person in this hierarchical structure. But you local parliamentary representative may be the right one. It is a question of finding the person who has political control over the organisation: either a member of the government or one of the opposition!

The “Why” technique

A criticism is often an expression of personal taste or of disapproval. Your critic sits in his judgmental PARENT EGO and our job is to get him back into his ADULT. Questions like: “Why do you think so?” often forces him to go into his rational ego state (ADULT).

Opponent: “Paul, your shirt is dirty”
Paul: “Why do you think so?”
Opponent: “Because you have spots on your shirts”
Paul: “Why do you think this makes my shirt dirty?”
and so on.

Other questions all starting with words containing the “W” do the same job.
The “W” questions are”
“Why, What, When, Where, Who and How?” are the kind of questions that forces people to get out of their moral ego state and into their ADULT.

This technique is also used in counselling when a person expresses a feeling emanating from either his PARENT or CHILD, and the counsellor asks for further clarification which will help not only the counsellor but also the client to analyze the feeling under question. In non-directive counselling probing the underlining meaning of feelings, often helps to shift a person’s view leading to a different solution and different actions.

Nevertheless, the “Why?” can also mean different things, as when a father asks his daughter to wash up the dishes, and the daughter keeps on asking “why” to every explanation that the father offers. She actually telling the father to get lost!

Mind reading

It is often frustrating to hear other people tell us what we really feel, what we think and really mean. There is a profession that makes a living by telling people what we really mean in the name of psycho-therapy. Once you accept that you have a “subconscious mind”, which by definition we cannot be aware of, we are ready to accept anything a ‘therapist’ might suggest.

“Our problems really stems from our relationship with one’s father or mother….to our Oedipus Complex”.

Forgotten experiences in the past become root causes of our behaviour and …. emotional problems according to that theory.
Non-professionals may play the same ‘mind-reading’ game, as when your husband suddenly tells you: “I have known you for the last ten years, and I know you don’t love me!”

Or the wife might say: “I know you don’t love me”….or “I know you love the other woman!”

The rule is: Don’t allow other people to read you mind!

Here the “W” questions become useful:

“How do you know that I feel…..?”

Equally, there are situations that you will be mind-reading another person, which will inevitably arouse a negative response. Sometimes we would like to know how another person feels about you. Or you may assume that another person really harbours negative feelings towards you, but you are not sure. It is then important to let the other person know that you are not telling them how they feel, but rather how you yourself feel. For example:

“I get sometimes the impression that you don’t love me. Is this true?”

Therefore you acknowledge that the problem is with you and not the other person.

“The yes…but argument”

Sometimes people ask you for advice and feeling pleased and honoured you may fall into a put-down trap.

Worker: “Can you tell me where I can find a job”.
Paul: “Perhaps you should contact the employment agency”
Worker: “Yes, but they cannot find a job that I like”
Paul: “Then tell the people at the agency the kind of job you do like”
Worker: “Yes, but they say that I have no experience as a gardener”
Paul: “Perhaps you should tell them that you are willing to learn”
Worker: “Yes, but they tell me I am too old to learn”.

Whatever the answer, it is rejected. This can go on indefinitely, until you realize that the worker is playing the “Yes..but” game. He really does not want to listen to you and is pleased to have found somebody who confirms that there is no solution to his problem, and so he can continue to do whatever he was doing before. It also serves as a subtle put-down to a counsellor for not being able to answer questions. It is easier to be negative than positive and it says “I don’t need to change”.

The “I” statement

When you are angry, you often are inclined to blame somebody else: “You make me angry”, “You annoy me”, “You upset me” are expressions that points the finger to another person for feelings that you yourself are responsible for.

To own that responsibility you could start off the statements by “I”, as in:

“I feel angry with you”
“I am upset, I am annoyed, I am frustrated, I am disappointed, etc.”

These are more likely to be registered with the other person.
This is a classic ploy by the headmaster at an assembling when he said: “I am deeply disappointed to find that someone has written filthy words in the boys’ toilet”.

An apology

Sometimes we can appease an opponent’s anger by simply apologizing when this is appropriate. It simply derives from a belief that we are entitled to be imperfect. This involves an appeal to an opponent’s nurturing PARENT. However, the rule is that you apologize only once!
There are people who keep on apologising as a ploy for continuing to behave in an annoying way.
It is no good apologizing to a person who has no nurturing parent or the capacity to sympathize. It does not help apologizing to Hitler, just before he is about to shoot you!
Sometimes people use an apology for attack, when they deliberately spill a cup of coffee over you and say “sorry”.

Throwing the ball in the other court

Looking back at the principle of personal happiness we know that we are mainly responsible for most of our own problems. But so is your opponent.

Typically we hear: “But this is your problem!”

A more gentle way of expressing this would be:
“I get the impression that you are upset with me. Why don’t we try to resolve this problem?” (of yours).

Daddy says…

People often try to tell you, to convince you, to manipulate you by appealing to an authority figure.

“The psychiatrist said that you have a lot of problems”.

The speaker hasn’t got the courage to tell you what he thinks. He uses an authority figure to express his opinion. The answer is:

“Maybe the psychiatrist thinks so, (fogging), but I am really interested in what you think about me.”

There is an infinite variety of “Daddy says so…”; the Pope says, the Doctor says, The Law states, The experts say…”.and so on.
To get an opinion across we use the Bible or the Koran. Eminent professors are now employed by influential corporations to put forward ‘scientific’ views favouring the activities of these corporations.

Thus get the speaker to express HIS opinion, and not someone else’s.

What will the neighbours think?

Closely related to “Daddy says…” is the worry what neighbours might think about your behaviour.

“Don’t raise your voice. The neighbours might think you are mad!!”

Here the wife uses the neighbour to tell her husband what SHE thinks.
You may go to a party and feel tired. So you don’t say much and sit in a corner. On the way home your wife or husband might say:

“Gee, people must think that you are a very dull person. You hardly said a word”

The answer to this is:
“Darling, I hope you told them differently, and explained that I was a good listener.”

Assertive training aims at resolving conflicts and gaining friends. The most direct way is to find out what other people want and then tell them what YOU want.
In the next session called “Values Clarification” we are going to look at the values we hold and cherish, that motivate us to pursue our objectives. These values are mainly things we “want” out of our lives. The goal of assertiveness is the “win, win” situation that will satisfy the needs of all parties concerned.
When “wants” do not match, start negotiating a workable compromise.

Workable Compromise

You can usually recognize a workable compromise when someone says:

“What about, if we…..?”

and suggests a solution.

How to practise assertiveness

We cannot become assertive overnight. We need to practise assertiveness either in private or with friends. There are several methods by which you can practise being assertive.

The two chair approach

Imagine you have two chairs facing one another. You sit in one chair and face the other empty chair. Place an imaginary opponent sitting opposite – preferably somebody in your real life with whom you experience a lot of problems. Then tell him/her that you would like to resolve that conflict between you two. You would not mind knowing how your opponent really feel about you.
Before you do so have a brief list of assertive principles as describes above in front of you for reference.

“What in fact do you think of me?”

Now imagine that your opponent expresses the worst possible judgments about you.

Whatever may be said look at all the techniques (or strategies) we have been discussing, pick the one that is most suitable to answer. Give your reply!
Now imagine what your opponent would say to that. Again whatever horrible thing comes back, pick one of your principles and again reply!
Imagine the worst possible putdown, the one thing you find hard to handle.
Keep this debate going until in the end you cannot think of anything else your opponent would attack you with.

Next try having a debate in your imagination with your boss and ask for a raise in salary. The boss may argue it is the wrong time to ask for a raise (an opener for “fogging…but”) or accuse you of laziness. “Perhaps I could improve my performance, but I would still like to have a raise in my salary!” and so on.

You could practise imaginably to approach a friend asking him/her to pay back moneys he/she owes you.

If people find you jumping from one chair to another, they may indeed think you are goofy.
Practising two-chair work can be done in complete privacy; in your car whilst driving home, or in the bathroom, and better still within the confines of your private thoughts before you go to sleep. The emphasis is on practice and practice…to prepare yourself for suitable defenses against attacks, without putting other people down, or up, but aiming to remain in the A-A transactions at all times.

The fun practise

You can have assertiveness training session with your partner or close friend. You ask your friend – who is familiar with this assertiveness training program – to take the role of your opponent, the person you find difficult to handle. Ask him to put you down the way your opponent would. See how you would handle this using some or all of the above strategies.

Reverse role playing

A more powerful exercise is when a person – preferably one who is familiar with this program – to play the role of the ‘client’. The real client is then ask to act out his opponent – for example his/ her boss, father, mother, lover, husband, whoever pose a threat to the ‘client’.
It is often the case that the opponent is perceived by the client to be worse than in real life. Reverse role playing was a popular exercise in our group sessions where members took up the role of ‘therapist’ and another member was asked to act out their opponent in the way they perceived them.
The member would then have an opportunity to learn from his friend (the therapist) how to be assertive, without putting the opponent up or down; and how to come to a resolution of that conflict situation.

Again and again a member would report to the group how he encountered his father (or other ‘opponent’) and how he discovered that his father was in fact a nice fellow. They had become friends in the ensuing encounter. In other words it is not the father, but one’s perception of the father – the demon floating around in our mind – that comprise our enemy in human relationships.

 

After you feel you have mastered this section of the program, you are ready to establish more significant or more intimate relationships with the help of “Communication and Counselling Training Course”

Further Readings

Alberti,R.E. & Emmons,M.(1975), STAND UP,SPEAK OUT,TALK BACK., Pocket Books N.Y.
Bach,G.R. & Wyden, P.(1968), THE INTIMATE ENEMY;HOW TO FIGHT FAIR IN LOVE AND MARRIAGE, Avon Books, N.Y.
Baer,J.(1976), HOW TO BE AN ASSERTIVE (NOT AGGRESSIVE) WOMAN IN LIFE, IN LOVE, AND ON THE JOB, A Signet Book,N.Y.
Dyer,W.W.(1976), YOUR ERRONEOUS ZONES, Sphere Books Ltd.London
Dyer,W.W.(1977), PULLING YOUR OWN STRINGS, Avon BooksN.Y.
Fensterheim,H. & Baer,J.(1975), DON’T SAY YES WHEN YOU WANT TO SAY NO, Futura Pubs.Ltd.London
Gordon,T.(1975), P.E.T.PARENT EFFECTIVENESS TRAINING, A Plume Book,N.Y.
Kassorla,I.(1973), PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER, Circus Books Melbourne
Maltz,M.(1960), PSYCHO-CYBERNETICS, Pocket Books N.Y.
Maltz,M.(1974), PSYCHO-CYBERNETIC PRINCIPLES FOR CREATIVE LIVING, Pocket Books
Ringer,R.J.(1973), WINNING THROUGH INTIMIDATION, Circus Books,Melbourne
Ruben,H.L., COMPETING: UNDERSTANDING AND WINNING THE STRATEGIC GAMES WE ALL PLAY, Harper & Row,Sydney
Smith,M.J.(1975), WHEN I SAY NO, I FEEL GUILTY, A Bantam Book

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