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Archive for January, 2010

When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen. Ernest Hemingway

45 year old Judy revealed in an anger management class that she was constantly angry at her husband.  When asked why, she revealed that the fact that she has a home based business that she is building has always conflicted with her on whether to spend time with her husband or to create a better quality of  life for the family.

She loved her husband but she also enjoyed what she was doing to contribute to the family. She felt he was create a better quality of life, more money and more time. However she resented her husband becoming more demanding and upset when she spent needed time with her business instead of being with him.

Judy revealed that she dealt with the situation by ignoring her husband when he expressed displeasure – with disastrous results. These included constant bickering and tension in the home as well as emotional distance from each other.

How much better the outcome would have been had Judy used basic skills of assertive communication.

What is assertive communication?

It is a way to communicate to your friends, your team and to your family your rights, feelings and needs- but in a good way. It is a method of letting peopel know where you stand on things and what your limits and boundaries are.

Assertive communication allows you to clarify communication and stand up for yourself without making things worse or getting a negative result or response from your team and loved ones.

Four Steps to Assertive Communication:

Step 1- Send clear messages

Turns out Judy had never clearly told her husband how she felt when he put pressure on her to spend time with him instead of her buisness. When she did discuss it, she hemmed, hawed and stammered with almost no eye contact.

As a result her husband was not getting a clear message. To communicate clearly, look at your posture and your facial expressions, as well as your hand and arm movements. Pay special attention to your tone of voice which can say volumes beyond your words. Research shows that Only 7% is conveyed in the words we use. 38% is conveyed in the voice, it’s quality, use of tone and inflections and 55% of communication is conveyed by the body language we use, i.e.; Use of eye contact, gestures and facial expressions.

Step 2 – Learn how to listen

Assertive people have developed their listening skills. While hearing is done with your ears, true listening is done with your heart. To be a better communicator, start by becoming a better listener. God has created us with one mouth but 2 ears and 2 eyes. That is what i calla clue! it is better to listen and see then it is to talk. Listen with your heart feel the emotions of others.

Much silence makes a powerful noise. proverb

Step 3 – Start the conversation with “I feel” rather than “you should.”

Words have tremendous power to determine how other people experience us, and how they respond to an issue. For this reason, people with good assertive communication skills focus on the problem behavior (and not the character of the person), stick to the point, don’t use labels, and make “I” statements rather than “you” statements.

Judy tried this with her husband and it worked very well.  Here is what she said: “Honey, I love you and want to be with you, but I also want to work to help contribute to the family. Could you get along without me for a hour or two a night? I’ll try to always be done by 8:30 PM.”

The best time to hold your tongue is the time you feel you must say something or bust. Josh Billings

Step 4 – Acknowledge your part in the conflict or issue

Anger is often an escalating process, involving two people who create a negative feeling in each other, sometimes instantly and sometimes over a long period of time.

It is natural to blame another family member entirely for the problem, especially when we are angry or in a defensive mode.

But, once we return to normal, the assertive communicator is able to accept some of the responsibility for the conflict. This acceptance and acknowledgement of your contribution to the problem is an indication of emotional maturity and can create an entirely different atmosphere between conflicting issues.

Try saying the following things to promote communication:

– My reactions were too extreme. I’m sorry. – Even though I still feel I was right about the issue, my reaction wasn’t right and I apologize. – I never thought of things that way. – Let me start again in a different way. – I can see my part in all this.

To Judy’s delight, when she practiced saying some of these things to her husband in a loving way, he began changing too. Almost immediately, he became less demanding, more understanding, and more aligned with her so both of them could work the buisness together.

Listening is an attitude of the heart, a genuine desire to be with another which both attracts and heals. J. Isham

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Success is more than economic gains, titles, and degrees. Planning for success is about mapping out all the aspects of your life. Similar to a map, you need to define the following details: origin, destination, vehicle, backpack, landmarks, and route.

Origin:  Who you are

A map has a starting point. Your origin is who you are right now. Most people when asked to introduce themselves would say, “Hi, I’m Jean and I am a 17-year old, senior highschool student.” It does not tell you about who Jean is; it only tells you her present preoccupation. To gain insights about yourself, you need to look closely at your beliefs, values, and principles aside from your economic, professional, cultural, and civil status. Moreover, you can also reflect on your experiences to give you insights on your good and not-so-good traits, skills, knowledge, strengths, and weaknesses. Upon introspection, Jean realized that she was highly motivated, generous, service-oriented, but impatient. Her inclination was in the biological-medical field. Furthermore, she believed that life must serve a purpose, and that wars were destructive to human dignity.

Destination: A vision of who you want to be

“Who do want to be?” this is your vision. Now it is important that you know yourself so that you would have a clearer idea of who you want to be; and the things you want to change whether they are attitudes, habits, or points of view. If you hardly know yourself, then your vision and targets for the future would also be unclear. Your destination should cover all the aspects of your being: the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Continuing Jean’s story, after she defined her beliefs, values, and principles in life, she decided that she wanted to have a life dedicated in serving her fellowmen.

Vehicle: Your Mission

A vehicle is the means by which you can reach your destination. It can be analogized to your mission or vocation in life. To a great extent, your mission would depend on what you know about yourself. Bases on Jean’s self-assessment, she decided that she was suited to become a doctor, and that she wanted to become one. Her chosen vocation was a medical doctor. Describing her vision-mission fully: it was to live a life dedicated to serving her fellowmen as a doctor in conflict-areas.

Travel Bag: Your knowledge, skills, and attitude

Food, drinks, medicines, and other travelling necessities are contained in a bag. Applying this concept to your life map, you also bring with you certain knowledge, skills, and attitudes. These determine your competence and help you in attaining your vision. Given such, there is a need for you to assess what knowledge, skills, and attitudes you have at present and what you need to gain along the way. This two-fold assessment will give you insights on your landmarks or measures of success. Jean realized that she needed to gain professional knowledge and skills on medicine so that she could become a doctor. She knew that she was a bit impatient with people so she realized that this was something she wanted to change.

Landmarks and Route: S.M.A.R.T. objectives

Landmarks confirm if you are on the right track while the route determines the travel time. Thus, in planning out your life, you also need to have landmarks and a route. These landmarks are your measures of success. These measures must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound. Thus you cannot set two major landmarks such as earning a master’s degree and a doctorate degree within a period of three years, since the minimum number of years to complete a master’s degree is two years. Going back to Jean as an example, she identified the following landmarks in her life map: completing a bachelor’s degree in biology by the age of 21; completing medicine by the age of 27; earning her specialization in infectious diseases by the age of 30; getting deployed in local public hospitals of their town by the age of 32; and serving as doctor in war-torn areas by the age of 35.

Anticipate Turns, Detours, and Potholes

The purpose of your life map is to minimize hasty and spur-of-the-moment decisions that can make you lose your way. But oftentimes our plans are modified along the way due to some inconveniences, delays, and other situations beyond our control. Like in any path, there are turns, detours, and potholes thus; we must anticipate them and adjust accordingly.

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