Back again with the third assertiveness tip from Dr. Manuel Smith and his 1970s book, When I Say No, I Feel Guilty. Following are quotes and dialog from the book to teach a lesson on self disclosure.
“Assertively disclosing information about yourself–how you think, feel, and react to the other person’s free information–allows the social communication to flow both ways. Without self-disclosure, the following up of free information would make a conversation very stilted, giving the impression that you are playing the role of an interrogator or district attorney, or simply prying into the other person’s life without sharing any of your own experience.
“PETE: What did you do today? Anything spectacular?
JEAN: No, I just studied all day. [Note: Jean…gave free information that she was studying. Pete could then ask: (1) What does she usually do when not studying. (2) What sort of exciting things have happened to her lately, (3) What is she studying for, and (4) Why was she studying at this particular time.]
PETE: What are you studying for?
JEAN: Shakespearean literature and biology of reproduction. [Note: Pete could respond to Jean’s statement in two ways: (1) Impersonal, or (2) Oriented toward her personal interests. The first would be a response such as ‘Tell me about Shakespearean drama.’ The second would be more personally oriented, i.e., ‘How did you become interested in Shakespeare?’]
PETE: Gee, I like theater. What a combination, Shakespeare and reproduction! How come you’re interested in Shakespearean drama?
JEAN: My mother was a drama major in college before she met my father. I guess I picked it up from her.
PETE: My family never had any acting talent. How do you feel about your mother giving up acting? I think it would be neat to have someone close to you who knew all the Broadway and Hollywood people.
“Disclosing private information about ourselves to other people is a very effective assertive skill, not only in social conversations but also when there is conflict between yourself and another person.” Smith adds the lack of eye-to-eye contact is a very common avoidance technique.
The next time you have a conversation where you want to be more assertive, let it flow both ways. Look the other person in the eye, and really put yourself in the conversation.
What habits can you change to become more assertive?