Our capability to communicate effectively is one of the biggest factors contributing to success in social life. And one of the key ways in which one can become an effective communicator is by remaining assertive during the communication process without losing one’s temper or tone. In short, making a point without losing civility.
But from what we see in Pakistan nowadays, most people have little tolerance for criticism from people of different narratives or opinions, resultantly, exchange of harsh words as a reaction and end physical violence has become commonplace. This chaotic and rabble-rousing behavior is persistently found in society because no organized training for confidence building and character development is available.
This observation is not merely confined to the less educated people, but also applies to highly qualified and educated ones who can be seen yelling at one another at various social events or TV talk shows and on social media. Plausible social behavior demands dealing with criticism and criticism sensibly, without taking the critique personally. Prudent people evaluate criticism with seriousness to see if it is justified and work on it diligently. In case it is valid, they tend to make efforts to revisit their own ideas or actions over which the criticism was made. On the contrary, if the criticism turns out invalid, the wise ignore it without any hue and cry.
But only a few in the Pakistani society can remain assertive without raising their voice, or fist, as such training regarding assertiveness and self-confidence is neither provided to students at educational institutes nor to professionals at work place in Pakistan. As a result, tolerance and civic sense seem to be on the way out. What it shows is that at schools, the priority is barely to pass examinations with good grades and thereafter, find decent-paying jobs. Character-building and moral-training in society seem to be at a discount in both the masses and leaders. As a consequence, we are increasingly becoming an intolerant and polarized society where people fight over petty issues, instead of discussing issues in a civilized manner.
Assertiveness never means forcing your thoughts upon others, rather it’s a tool of employing a calm and logical demeanor to make others buy your message. And a key attribute that makes one lose his or her ability to assert with civility is being judgmental without evidence. Judging without realizing the context of an event, matter or discussion, is certain to tick the other party off and has the potential to create a situation that will go beyond the domain of civilized interaction. Therefore, it is best NOT to be judgmental and always avoid making such statements that could trigger blame or insinuate other person(s) by getting him (them) into a defensive mode.
The power of assertiveness can be gained when we focus on behaviors rather than personal attributes of our target audience and communicators; when we stick to present circumstances while ignoring qualifying statements; and when we are ready to repeat our message without losing the “train of thought” and without getting sucked into arguments or explaining ourselves or giving up.
Assertiveness often requires – at both public and private forums –a perfect usage of “broken record technique”, which means repeating or revising our point in a calm, even and convincible manner.
Finally, we must learn from our own deeds and behaviors for assertiveness and self-confidence. No one can expect drastic changes in communication overnight. After every day interaction with people, you must evaluate carefully how you feel, visualize, analyze, and conclude. If you do not feel satisfied with your interactional behavior, think about how and what you could have said or done differently and then rehearse a more assertive response logically.
Remaining civilized during debates and discussions is extremely important for growth in private and professional life. And like all things that are important, mastering them takes time and effort. Putting in a little effort each day can not only help you become good at convincing, but also help you walk away from tricky situations on the back of your ability to remain civilized under pressure.
The views and opinions expressed in the article are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views and policy of The Academia Magazine.