Nation on the March

Nation on the March
Nation on the March

Oct 25, 2009

Assertiveness, one barking feamle dog & an untimely funeral





One often finds that others dominate him into thinking their way  or that  it is  difficult for him to express positive or negative feelings frankly.

It is likely that he has a common problem known as "lack of assertiveness."

What is Assertiveness?

Assertiveness is standing up for your right to be treated fairly. It is expressing your opinions, needs, and feelings, without ignoring or hurting the opinions, needs, and feelings of others.
Because people want to be liked and thought of as 'nice' or 'easy to get along with', they often keep their opinions to themselves, especially if those opinions conflict with other people's.

A university counseling centre abroad has given in nutshell some tips. Read on .....

“… Before you can comfortably express your needs, you must believe you have a legitimate right to have those needs.

 Keep in mind that you have the following rights:

·         The right to decide how to lead your life. This includes pursuing your own goals and dreams and establishing your own priorities.
·         The right to your own values, beliefs, opinions, and emotions -- and the right to respect yourself for them, no matter the opinion of others.
·         The right not to justify or explain your actions or feelings to others.
·         The right to tell others how you wish to be treated.
·         The right to express yourself and to say "No," "I don't know," "I don't understand," or even "I don't care." You have the right to take the time you need to formulate your ideas before expressing them.
·         The right to ask for information or help -- without having negative feelings about your needs.
·         The right to change your mind, to make mistakes, and to sometimes act illogically -- with full understanding and acceptance of the consequences.
·         The right to like yourself even though you're not perfect, and to sometimes do less than you are capable of doing.
·         The right to have positive, satisfying relationships within which you feel comfortable and free to express yourself honestly -- and the right to change or end relationships if they don't meet your needs.
·         The right to change, enhance, or develop your life in any way you determine.

When you don't believe you have these rights -- you may react very passively to circumstances and events in your life. When you allow the needs, opinions, and judgments of others to become more important than your own, you are likely to feel hurt, anxious, and even angry. This kind of passive or nonassertive behavior is often indirect, emotionally dishonest and self-denying.


Many people feel that attending to their legitimate needs and asserting their rights translates to being selfish. Selfishness means being concerned about only your rights, with little or no regard for others. Implicit in your rights is the fact that you are concerned about the legitimate rights of others as well.
Selfishness and Aggressiveness

When you behave selfishly, or in a way that violates the rights of others, you are, in fact, acting in a destructive, aggressive manner --rather than in a constructive, assertive manner. There is a very fine line that divides the two manners of action.


Aggressiveness means that you express your rights but at the expense, degradation, or humiliation of another. It involves being so emotionally or physically forceful that the rights of others are not allowed to surface. Aggressiveness usually results in others becoming angry or vengeful, and as such, it can work against your intentions and cause people to lose respect for you. You may feel self-righteous or superior at a particular time -- but after thinking things through, you may feel guilty later. “

How a very fine gentleman will assert himself?

The legendary Mr. JRD Tata was born in Paris in 1904. His father was Parsi and mother was French. His school days upto the age of 12 were spent in Paris, three years  in Mumbai and Yokohama and one and half year in France. Ultimately, at the age of 22 he arrived in India and lived here for the rest of his life.


JRD Tata‘s sixty odd years of letter writing produced more than 40,000 letters. The selected letters have been published as book “JRD TATA Letters” by Rupa & Co. and  very ably edited by Mr. Arvind Mambro who mentions that “JRD Tata was a prolific letter-writer and … (his letters) reveal various facets of his personality, his relationship with various people, his view on various issues, his kindness, forthrightness, and sense of humour…”

Here, for the sake of understanding how to be assertive without being offensive or aggressive, two of his letters serve as best example I could lay my hands upon. A careful reading will exhibit how JRD’s qualities as a superior human being an his fine sensitiveness about feelings of others as well as his likes and dislikes.


First letter is written to one of his employees, Mr. LP Vachek, General Manager of Taj Hotel  about some thing that would hurt the feelings of others







The second  one ( below) is   written to his neighbour Dr KT Gajjar, a noted pathologist and whose house was next to JRD’s shack at Juhu is explicit about how he would like to be treated







But......Never Try Assertiveness At Home !
A mild-mannered man was tired of being bossed around by his wife so he went to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist said he needed to build his self-esteem, and so gave him a book on assertiveness, which he read on the way home. 

He had finished the book by the time he reached his house. The man stormed into the house and walked up to his wife.

Pointing a finger in her face, he said, "From now on, I want you to know that I am the man of this house, and my word is law! I want you to prepare me a gourmet meal tonight, and when I'm finished eating my meal, I expect a sumptuous dessert afterward. Then, after dinner, you're going to draw me my bath so I can relax. And when I'm finished with my bath, guess who's going to dress me and comb my hair?"  

"The funeral contractor," said his wife.

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