Dealing With Non-Assertive People

In an ideal world everyone would be assertive. Everyone would be confident enough to tell us exactly what they want, exactly how they feel and exactly what they need – but this isn’t the case.

We often think that some of us are passive and some of us are aggressive. The truth is we are all both.

So, why aren’t we all assertive? Simple, being assertive isn’t a natural position to be in. It’s a skill that needs to be learnt, developed and practiced. It’s a mindset that needs to be switched on when required.

We might think that someone is being assertive, but we need to be sure that is the truth and not just our perceptions fogging our view. We may easily confuse assertiveness with aggression.

In a world where everyone is unique and different it’s useful to know how to deal with other people that are passive and aggressive and how we can remain assertive.

Why Are People Not Assertive?

This could be for a number of different reasons.

  • Lack of confidence or self esteem
  • Past experiences where we were made to feel aggressive or passive
  • Our personality
  • The job that we do
  • Stress or other health issues

Dealing With Aggressive People

The thing to understand here is that the person demonstrating the behaviour probably isn’t aware they are being aggressive. The likelihood is that their response is an emotional one and as far as they are concerned their behaviour is justified.

It may also be that they have a deep rigid belief that this is the best way to communicate when they want something done.

Here are a few quick tips to deal with aggressive people:

Maintain self control. If you respond aggressively you fan the flames. Take a look at our post on Betaris Box that looks more at this.

You could also use a technique called Fogging. This is where your response to an aggressive approach isn’t a one that is argumentative. For example:

Other Person: ‘Where have you been, you’re an hour late. You’ve let me down again. You’re always letting me down. I’m getting incredibly annoyed with you’

Fogging Response: ‘Yes, I’m a bit later than expected and I can see why that has annoyed you’

Other Person: ‘You’re damn right I’m annoyed. I’ve been waiting for you for ages. You should think more about other people’

Fogging Response: ‘Yes, I was worried that I might have left you waiting.’

The point here is to not argue with the point but to agree with it. The other person is probably expecting an argumentative or defensive response then stands down when it doesn’t come.

Linked to the above, take a mental step back before responding. Be sure you are about to respond in the right way and not emotionally.

Show empathy for their situation. Use statements such as:

I understand why you would be frustrated by that’, or

‘I understand why you would feel angry by this’.

But, avoid ‘I understand how you feel’. Because, do you really?

Dealing With Passive People

Similar to aggressive people, it’s good to understand why people are passive. This is usually linked to past experience or confidence.

Here are some tips for dealing with passive people:

Show you are interested in what they have to say. The trick is to make them feel more confident about speaking. If you show you are genuinely interested then they will want to continue talking. If you don’t you give them a reason to stop.

Think about your body language. Is it open and inviting? Does it show you are interested? On the same point, show you are listening.

Encourage them into the conversation. Ask open questions and invite them in. Allow them to use their voice in the space you are in. Make then feel like it’s OK to talk. Thank them for their input, let them see that it is valued.

Don’t get frustrated. If you do don’t show it. You need to be patient.

If you would like to find out more about dealing with passive and aggressive behaviours or becoming more assertive yourself, then why not attend an Assertiveness Skills training course. Look no further that our training and development partner Revolution Learning and Development. Take a look at their Assertiveness Skills Training Courses here.


How To Be More Positive

Having a positive attitude can have an amazing impact on your life, your work and the relationships we have with others.

But, what is attitude? It’s defined at ‘a settled way of thinking or feeling about something‘. This means that it’s a choice rather than something natural. Then, the more we think that way the more it becomes an unconscious choice.

Making more conscious choices about things or about your attitude toward things means you begin to feel less negative. You need to take control of your decisions and you can see the impact of this by taking a look at a model called Betaris Box.

It’s a very famous model often looked at in Assertiveness Skills Courses and in counselling. It’s such a simple approach but can have a profound affect.

Betari’s Box works on the understanding that we all have the ability to choose an attitude. Imagine waking up first thing on a morning, we very quickly fall into the routine we normally carry out. Unconsciously we probably begin making decisions about how our day will go based on our experience of the previous day, in other words we unconsciously choose an attitude.

The Betaris Box model describes that actually we have the ability to choose this attitude consciously. If we actually give it thought we can begin to choose what kind of attitude we want to demonstrate.

You might say ‘Yeah but, that’s fine but what about when you walk out the door and it’s raining or someone cuts me up at a roundabout, that ruins my day’. It does, but…..

If we have the ability to choose an attitude, then we have the ability to choose how we respond to these situations.n If we don’t we make an unconscious choice and then this affects how we feel for the rest of the day.

The Betaris Box model is simple:

My Attitude -> Affects -> My Behaviour -> Affects -> Your Attitude -> Affects -> Your Behaviour -> Affects -> My Attitude and so on.

In other words the attitude you take will affect the behaviour you demonstrate. When others see that behaviour, they then choose their attitude towards you (and probably how they will feel for the rest of the day after that) and how they will then in turn reposnd through their behaviour.

If we take time to choose the attitude we want to demonstrate, we can control the behaviour we display.

However, the model is a cycle. We could be making a really good choice to have a great attitude, but at the same day someone else might be choosing to have a bad day. If you meet them, they could influence your attitude and behaviour very quickly and you begin to copy their behaviour.

If we again make a conscience decision to choose how we react to them, we begin to take control of how we feel about everything. I use a quote ‘You choose to behave like that…..I choose to behave like this’. In other words, its a conscience decision in how to react. Very much like an Assertive approach, engaging your brain.

Now, it’s not just other people that can influence your attitude. Any situation could cause this. Situations can also have the same affect. We make the same decisions when we are faced with situations and if we take just a few seconds to stop and think.

We might normally go off the wall at these things. Our behaviour will be influenced by our attitude we take towards these, and actually can completely change how we live our lives and the relationships we have. Remember, the behaviour we demonstrate will change other peoples attitudes toward you.

If you follow the model, it’s similar to dealing with people. Think ‘It’s happened, I can’t change it, what am I going to do to get on with things’.

In other words, it’s about being more proactive and looking forward instead of looking back and thinking why?

Some life events might take longer to break that cycle, but most of the day to day things we can confidently tackle and actually begin to have an influence the way we live our lives.

A great film to watch about this is called FISH! Quite expensive, but great if you can get to see it.

So, choose your attitude NOW!!!!!!

Want to know more? Then why not attend an assertiveness skills training course. Look no further than our training and development partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd. Take a look at their assertiveness skills training programmes here.

People Are Not Mushrooms – Don’t Keep Them In The Dark

I’m no keen gardener but I know that mushrooms like to be kept in dark damp conditions. If they get too much sunlight or are allowed to dry out then they simply don’t grow.

People on the other hand don’t grow that well when they are kept in the dark, so why do many organisations do just that when it comes to their people.

Many organisations don’t communicate all that well with their people, keeping them in the dark. If people don’t know what’s going in the the organisation they find it hard to grow or perform.

So, why do they get it so badly wrong and what can organisations do to improve?

No Communication Strategy

Some organisations haven’t sat down and thought about why, what, when, who and how they will communicate. If this is the case, communication comes very last minute and people are expected to react. A lot of head scratching goes on when things are not changing as quickly as they thought it would and worse still productivity drops.

The organisation should have a clear strategy of communication that includes:

Why – Why they should communicate to their staff? The answer to this question should be straight forward.

What – What will they communicate? This should include things such as up and coming changes, vision, targets, goals, objectives, success stories, lessons learnt and pretty much everything else people need in order to feel bought into the organisation.

When – When will they communicate? Once the messages that need to go out are defined, when will they communicate it. For example, communicating a change on the day it happens isn’t going to work. This should be planned in well in advance and in stages leading up to an event. If it’s goals and objectives etc, again this communicated in advance to people have to time to think about how they will achieve what’s expected.

Who – Who needs to receive the messages from the ‘what’ question above? – Does everyone need to hear the message or just a small group of people. It should be defined which messages go to who and and what level of detail.

How – How will those messages be delivered? Identify all of the communication channels available and pick the one best suited for the message and the audience. For example, if a detailed amount of information needs to go to a specific group then face to face may be better, but if a brief update needs to go to another then a newsletter or briefing document would be suitable.

Heavy Reliance on One Method

In this digital age, we tend to rely heavily on email, simply because it’s quick and easy. But, email isn’t always the best method of getting a message across.

By identifying all of the channels available to the business, they can then work out the best method to get a message across. Talking to people is time consuming, but so is fixing problems when things are mis-communicated by email.

Top Down Communication

This is where the management team pass messages down the hierarchy of the business and expect people to act. But, those people in that structure have a voice and actually may have some good ideas.

People working on the ground have the best view of the ground and will know what the issues are. A good communication strategy will include a process of two way communication where people on the ground have the ability to feed back up the hierarchy so their ideas are heard and if warranted acted upon.

It can be extremely frustrating and de-motivational if people have ideas but there is no forum or process for them do be listened to.

So, the challenge for organisations is simple – don’t grow flowers that need to be out in the open to prosper as you would mushrooms.

If you would like to know more about building an effective communication strategy or communicating more effectively with people then why not attend a Communication Skills Training Course?

Our training and development partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd delivers a communication skills workshop that covers all of the above points. See their Communication Skills Overview for more.

Are You Making These Communication Mistakes?

Mistakes when communicating can be costly. If people don’t understand the message you won’t get the outcomes you were looking for. Poor communication can be de-motivational and also have an impact on your credibility.

Poor communication doesn’t just apply to written messages. Of course if you send an email with a lot of spelling mistakes in it then this will look really bad, but you also need to consider how effectively you communicate on a face to face basis.

Have a look at the points below and see if you are making these communication mistakes:

Not Adapting Your Style – There isn’t a one size fits all approach to communication. People take on board information differently. People expect different levels of details and different styles of approach. You need to consider the people or person you are communicating to and adapt your style to meet their needs.

Not Checking Your Work – Not checking and double checking your emails or other written documents for spelling and grammatical errors not only makes you look unprofessional, it also makes it difficult to understand the message. Be sure to check your message before sending it.

Not Thinking About the Purpose – Before you communicate you need to consider the objective of your communication – what do you want the person to know or do as a result of your communication. By thinking about the objective of the message you can think about what needs to go into the message to ensure you get the point across. You also need to check that the message has been understood – don’t just assume it has.

Not Choosing the Right Method – You should think about the best method of communication to get your message across. For example, email isn’t the best method of delivering bad news, face to face isn’t always the best option to deliver lots of detail. Although face to face should be seen as the main method of communication, you should think about how best to get the message across.

Not Having the Conversation – Avoiding conversations because you think its going to be difficult isn’t going to make the problem go away. The longer you leave it the harder the conversation becomes. Plan out what you want to say, rehearse it and deliver it. Don’t put it off.

Speaking Before You Think – If someone is delivering a difficult message to you or demonstrating negative behaviours whilst communicating to you, don’t just react. Your gut reaction may not be the best reaction and may fuel further negative behaviours. Be assertive, take a few seconds to think and ‘engage your brain’. Quickly consider the best way to respond. Normally the best think to do is remain calm and controlled regardless of how bad the behaviour of the other person.

Not Listening – Yes what you have to say is important, but so is what the other person has to say. If you think that your message is the most important this may stop you from listening effectively. Not listening means you can’t have an effective conversation. Also consider your other barriers to listening.

Communicating effectively doesn’t happen by itself. It takes time, concentration and practice. If you want more ideas or help communicating effectively then why not attend a Communication Skills Training Courses. We recommend our Training and Development partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd.

They’ve got these courses across the UK. Take a look at their Communication Skills Training Course page here. You also may like to look at their Assertiveness Skills Training Course that will help you to communicate more confidently.


How To Start A Presentation

If you have ever delivered a presentation before you’ll know it can be quite a daunting task.  Often when we are asked to do a presentation, we can feel nervous, stressed and worried.  This post looks at How to Start a Presentation Effectively.

Nerves tend to get the better of us right at the beginning of the presentation.  We ask ourselves ‘will they like it’ or ‘will they get it’ and self doubt starts to creep in.

Having the start of your presentation mapped out correctly and structured well will not only help you concentrate more on your actual presentation,but will help to quickly engage your audience.

Here are some things that you can do to effectively start your presentation, and ensure that your presentation has impact.

The main thing to do is to use the INTRO  acronym.

INTRO stands for Interest, Need, Title, Range, Objectives and here is what it all means.

Interest – Think of something that you can do at the beginning of your presentation.  You want something that captures the imagination of your audience – maybe tell a story or some appropriate humour.  You want the audience to sit up and listen and engage with you before you even get to the main content.

Need – Why does your audience need to be there?  What are the reasons why you have decided to do a presentation.  Once of the main reasons why people don’t engage well with presenters is that they don’t always clearly understand why they are there.  Ensure you describe an issue or the reasons why people need the information you are about to give them.

Title – Give your presentation a catchy title.  Sometimes avoiding the obvious can generate more interest.  So for example ‘A Talk About Sales Figures’ won’t keep people guessing as to the content of your presentation, people may have already made up their mind whether they are going to listen to you.

Range – Is simply and agenda (agenda doesn’t fit into INTRO).  Ensure that your presentation has a clear agenda or list of items you are going to cover.

Objectives – What the objectives of the presentation.  Help people to see what they will know, understand, be able to do etc after they have received your information.

Using INTRO can help massively with the start of your presentation, reduce nerves and quickly engage people into your presentation.

Here’s an example of a ‘different’ presentation that uses INTRO.  This is Ling Valentine, North East business woman and star of Dragon’s Den (note has a little bad language).  Click here to see the video.

What do you think?  What do you do to start your presentations.

If you would like more help with starting a presentation, INTRO or any other aspect of delivering effective presentations, why not attend a Presentation Skills Training Course.  

Look no further than our training and development partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd. Click here for information on their Presentation Skills Training Courses.

How to Say No

Do you find it difficult to say no to people?  Many of us do.  Many of us don’t like to let people down and try to please people.

But, we have to realise at some point that we can’t say yes to everyone.  It puts us at risk of utilising precious time that we should be spending on completing things on our own agenda, not other peoples.

In the book The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes by William Ury, the author explains that there are three responses to someone who asks us to do something we don’t want to do:

Accommodation – We say yes when we really want to say no.  This usually happens when we value the relationship of the person asking above the importance of our won interests.

Attack – We say no poorly.  Sometimes we are fearful or resentful of the request and overreact to the person making the request.

Avoidance – We say nothing.  We may be afraid of offending the other person, so we say nothing and hope it all goes away.  But, it rarely does.

Sometimes the above responses spill over into each other, making the situation a whole lot worse.

William Ury suggests a fourth strategy or response that doesn’t require us to sacrifice our priorities or the relationships that we have with others.  He describes it as a positive no.

This simple formula employs a YES – NO – YES response.

This ‘Positive No’ has three parts:

Yes.  It begins by saying yes to yourself and protecting what is important to you

No.  It then moves on with a matter-of-fact No that sets clear boundaries

Yes.  A positive no ends with a yes that affirms the relationship and offers another solution to the persons request.

So, for example:

Thank you for considering me to do this task for you – the yes

Unfortunately I can’t do this for you as I have other pressing things to do that have deadlines that can’t be moved – the no.

You could try asking Joe to do this for you, or I can offer you some help on this day when I have less to do.

People’s reactions to no tend to be negative as we don’t always explain the reasons or provide alternative solutions.


Do you struggle to say no?  Then why not attend an Assertiveness Skills Training Courses.

Look no further than our training and development partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd.Their Assertiveness Skills Training Courses offer lots of practical help on saying no, building better relationships, communicating more effectively and confidently.

You can see where their Assertiveness Skills Training Courses are running by clicking here.

Holding Effective Meetings

Meetings are one of those things that seem to be unavoidable in business today. For some of us they feel like a bit of a chore, but they are a very important communication tool.

If meetings are not run correctly they will feel like they become a bit of a drain on your time, so here are some top tips for effective meetings.


1. Ensure your meeting has an objective or objectives – Rather than talk about what will be discussed in the meeting, think about what outputs the meeting will create. For example, avoid ‘we’re meeting to talk about last weeks sales figures’ and focus on ‘we’re meeting to develop some actions on how to achieve our sales targets for next week’.

If you can’t think of an objective for your meeting you should ask yourself if a meeting is needed.

2. Use and stick to an agenda – An agenda will help you and the other attendees focus on what needs to be discussed. Flip the agenda up and put it on the wall where it is always visible and use it to manage discussions, especially when the discussion goes ‘off-piste’.

3. Capture things that can’t be answered – Don’t get drawn into what you think the answers to questions are. Use a ‘car park’ sheet or flip chart to capture those things you are unsure about then move on.

4. Start with any other business – If you must have an any other business section in your meeting, but it at the beginning. It seems unorthodox but you want the meeting to finish positively. You could go even further to say that if an item didn’t make the agenda then it won’t be discussed.

5. Have a time keeper – make sure someone is watching the time so you don’t over-run. Set out times for each discussion point then stick to it.

6. Ensure everyone has their say – Don’t leave people out. Even if someone is being really quiet, ask them for their opinion.

7. Finish on time – Ensure your meeting finishes at the agreed time. Over running will put people into a negative mind-set making harder to achieve your outcomes.

8. Ensure your meeting has achieved it’s objectives – Check back through the objectives and ensure the meeting has driven the outcomes you were looking for.

We hope you find these tips useful. You can find out more about holding effective meetings as well as improving other areas of your communication with a Communication Skills Training Course. Look no further than our training and development partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd. To get more information take a look at their Communication Skills training course page.

Don’t Suck at Powerpoint

Have you ever sat through a presentation and thought I could have just read that from the slides? Maybe you got bamboozled by too much animation or unclear graphics.

PowerPoint is a great tool, but only if used correctly. Sticking in lots of lines of text, rubbish graphics and too much animation all adds up to a PowerPoint presentation that sucks.

We came across this on Slideshare from Jess Desardjins that gives some grat tips on making cool PowerPoint presentations.

It covers 5 main key tips. Have  flick through, we’re sure you’ll find it useful.

Get your presentations in order and learn some great tips on delivering effective presentations with a presentation skills training course. Look no further than our training and development partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd. Get all of the details on the presentation skills training course information page here.

The 7 Cs of Communication

We communicate with people everyday, both at work and in our personal life. We communicate using a number of different methods – face to face, telephone, email, instant messenger. letter, reports, meetings, presentations and more.

In order to ensure you get the right result when you communicate you need to ensure that your communication is effective and clear and this is where the 7 Cs of Communication can help.

The 7 Cs is a checklist for ensuring your emails, meetings, calls, reports, presentations and other methods you use to communicate are clear and ensures the recipient gets the message.

The 7 Cs of Communication are:

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Contrete
  • Correct
  • Coherent
  • Complete
  • Courteous

Here’s what they mean:

Clear – (Clarity) Be clear about the goal of your message and the purpose of the message. Present one idea at a time making it easier for the recipient to understand. Don’t leave them guessing what the message is about and having to fill in the gaps themselves.

Concise – (Conciseness) Keep to the point and keep it short and simple. Don’t use unnecessary words (use two words where one will do or 6 sentences when 3 will do). Don’t repeat the same point in different ways.

Concrete – (Concreteness) Be clear, not fuzzy. Make sure there is enough detail to get the message across but not too much that the recipient will be lost and ensure the message is factual.

Correct – (Correctness) Check the information you are providing is accurate and in written communication ensure its free from grammatical and spelling errors. Check the technical parts of your content are understandable by the person receiving the information.

Coherent – Make sure your message flows well and is laid out logically. The points you make should all be linked to the main topic and should help you to deliver the objective your originally set out to achieve. Make sure the tone of the message is the same throughout.

Complete – (Completeness) Ensure the recipient has everything they need to understand your message and take action if needed. If action is needed, ensure your message includes a ‘call to action’. Also ensure that any specific details are clear and included. Don’t leave the recipient with lots of questions to ask.

Courteous – (Courtesy) Your message should be polite, friendly, professional, open and honest. Think about your message from the recipients point of view and you are empathetic towards their needs. This will help you to deliver the message is a way that’s easy to understand and buy in to.


By following the 7 Cs of communication you should find the messages you are delivering much more effective.

You can find out more about the 7 C’s of Communication and effective communication in general by attending a Communication Skills Training Course or for written communication our Business Writing Skills Training Course. Look no further than our training and development partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd. See their Communication Skills training course overview here and their Business Writing Skills training course overview here.