Discussion Questions: Chapter Fourteen

“Assertive Communication=Effective Communication”

People sometimes interpret assertiveness as aggressiveness, seeing men, women or children asking for what they want as being “pushy.” But appropriate assertiveness, or what we call in this chapter, “the gutsy middle road,” is the only way out of the bullying dynamic. It is “speaking truth to power.” Learning assertiveness skills is recommended both for those who have been bullied and those who are bullies alike. In fact, it is the key to Zorgos!

@ Kristen Caven slide from Beyond Bullying workshop

@ Kristen Caven slide from Beyond Bullying workshop

“Assertiveness skills help people get out of the bullying trap. Youngsters who are assertive do not bully, and they do not attract bullies. They get their needs met without being mean, bratty, coy, or manipulative. They find their voice and speak up; they stand up for themselves and for their friends. Assertive kids have the inner strength and moral compass to be upstanders when aggression and injustice occur.” (pp. 235, 236)

Q: What are examples of the “mouse” communication style, of the “monster” communication style, and of the “me – assertive” communication style?

“Asking assertively is direct communication that is also kind and respectful. A request, not a demand, allows the other person to say ‘no’; it does not use force to get what you want.” (pp. 241, 242)

Q: Recall a time when your child whined or cried or what being mean. Perhaps you were frustrated because you didn’t know what was wrong. What’s your hunch about what was really going on? What do you think they needed? What “I-statement” could have helped him/her shift the focus to what they want and need, clearly communicate that need, and move toward a solution?

“Saying NO, like brakes on a bicycle or car, defines and upholds boundaries. Saying NO defines how far others can go, how far we are willing to go, and where we draw the line. Saying no helps us be in the driver’s seat of our lives…. Saying NO lets us stop what we don’t want and get more of what we do want.” (p. 246)

Q: Is it difficult for you to say NO? Do you feel guilty, that you’re hurting their self-esteem, that they won’t like or love you? Share what comes up for you with other parents in your group.

“It’s the job of parents to stop unacceptable behaviors by saying “No” and “Stop that.” Practicing saying NO builds power and gets easier the more you do it. You might even learn it from your two-year-old!” (p. 247)

Q: What good is NO? What are the benefits? What does saying NO give you?

“You can probably bet the people in your life won’t like it when you first start saying NO, especially if you’ve never said it before. You might notify them (especially your partner) that you’re learning new skills and you’d appreciate their support. You can even encourage them to say no as well…. Balance is important…. Both yes and no are essential for structure, flow, and effective communication.” (p. 248)

Q: Teach your children what you are learning. Help them talk about their feelings, to ask for what they need, to say NO to what they don’t want. These skills will benefit them and you for all your days.


And here is our favorite question of course:

Q: What sentence, paragraph, or idea popped out at you, or stuck with you after reading?

Reply in the Comments, below!

Looking for resource links? Click here.

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