Modeling Assertiveness With Students
The concept of assertiveness is essential to social and emotional learning because it bridges the gap between the two poles of aggressiveness and passivity. Assertiveness represents the middle ground. When people behave aggressively, they put their own requirements first and may resort to the use of threats in order to acquire what they want. People who behave passively do things they don’t want to do because they perceive others to be exerting pressure on them or threatening them in some way.
On the other hand, when people behave assertively, they stand up for themselves without putting others down or making them feel bad. To put it another way, they are powerful without being vicious.
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Learning how to communicate in an assertive manner is a difficult talent to acquire. Our society has a propensity to praise aggressive behaviour. In cartoons and sitcoms, putdowns are often presented as comedic situations, and the internet can serve as a venue for cyberbullying. It might be challenging to locate instances of aggressive behaviour in the public realm.
How does assertive communication actually appear and sound when it’s being practised in real life? How can we fight the temptation to take aggressive or passive actions, which may seem simpler in the present, but won’t get us any closer to finding a solution to our difficulties in the long run? How can we ensure that our requirements are met without causing harm to other people?
Students who lack the ability to be assertive in the classroom may find it difficult to openly voice their thoughts, ask for clarification when they are confused, or stand up against bullying perpetrated by a fellow student without feeling compelled to do so. Teachers who do not possess these abilities may have difficulty establishing clear behaviour expectations for their students in the classroom and may be hesitant to seek guidance from principals and coaches.
By demonstrating and instructing straightforward communication strategies that are applicable both inside and outside of the classroom, educators can not only improve their students’ assertiveness abilities but also their own. The explicit instruction of these tactics can make it easier for all of us to use them when we’re actually out in the world.
Your students will benefit greatly from the opportunity to put these tactics for assertive communication into practise by participating in role plays once you have first presented and discussed them. You might want to begin by describing a number of different disagreements or issues, then facilitate a discussion about which methods of assertiveness would be the most beneficial, and finally give the students the opportunity to role-play and evaluate how successful their approach was.
The “lovely no”: Both students and teachers may experience feelings of pressure to agree with the ideas or invitations proposed by other people. For instance, “Are you interested in making a transaction for some snacks?” and “Would you like to assist in the planning of this lesson?”
If we decide to decline these invites, it can give rise to feelings of anxiousness. The phrase “nice no” refers to a straightforward method that can be utilised to politely decline such requests in an aggressive manner. It’s possible that we’d respond with a friendly grin and the words, “Thanks for asking me, but I’m not interested.” There are instances when a straightforward “No, thanks” will do the work. In many cases, the best way to respond to a polite “no” is to provide an alternative option.
When students are requested by their classmates to do things that are outside of their comfort zone, such as “Will you allow me cut in line?” or “Can I copy from your paper?”, it is important for them to establish clear boundaries. It is possible to reply in an aggressive manner to such invites by establishing a clear and firm boundary by saying “No, I’m not comfortable with that.” This is one strategy for assertive communication. Students don’t have to justify their actions or negotiate with each other over it; instead, they should just establish a clear boundary and stick to it.
People occasionally ask us questions that we are not prepared to answer, and we need some time to think about how to respond. It’s possible that we need additional knowledge, the opportunity to consider different choices, or some time to think about how we feel about the current predicament. Asking for some time to think of a response is an assertive strategy that can be used when replying to questions of this nature. “I’m not sure how to answer that right now. Could I get a response from you later today? Asking for the amount of time we require, whether it is later the same day or the following week, is an important step in the process.
As a result of our inability to articulate our requirements in an unambiguous manner, we frequently find that we have caused confusion in the situation. When it comes to our requirements, other people may appear to be either oblivious to them or disrespectful, but in reality, they are merely unaware of them. If we are able to recognise this, we will be able to address the issue by articulating our requirements in a composed manner. For instance, a student might remark to a classmate, “I need space in the closet to hang my coat,” as an example of what they might say. A student could also address an instructor with the question, “Could you please repeat that? I need to have the instructions repeated to me.”
Using the “I feel” mode of communication: On sometimes, we encounter misunderstandings that are of a more personal nature. If we allow ourselves to be injured by someone we are close to, our natural reaction is to seek protection by acting aggressively, making an accusation, or withdrawing passively from the situation. Students and instructors, however, are able to employ the “I feel” message as a means of assertively communicating their feelings and emotional needs when they have friends, professors, and colleagues who care about them. When a student’s buddy cancels plans with them, the student may tell their friend, “It makes me sad since I really enjoy spending time with you.” This provides the pal with the opportunity to comprehend the speaker’s requirements and make an effort to fulfil them.
Being able to respond appropriately to violent behaviour is important because when we communicate assertively, we are sometimes confronted with an angry response that could cast doubt on the validity of our feelings or point of view. It’s possible that the best thing for us to do in this circumstance would be to withdraw ourselves from the conversation in a calm manner by saying something along the lines of, “I believe I stated my opinions clearly, therefore there’s not much more to talk about.”