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Assertive Communication For Success



Building And Reinforcing Teams (14)


Akindotun Merino

An assertive person is confident and direct in dealing with others. Assertive communications promote fairness and equality in human interactions, based on a positive sense of respect for self and others. It is the direct communication of a person’s needs, wants, and opinions without punishing, threatening, or putting down another person.

Assertive behavior includes the ability to stand up for a person’s legitimate rights – without violating the rights of others or being overly fearful in the process.

A skill that can be learned, assertive behavior is situational specific; meaning different types of assertive behavior can be used in different situations.

Strong communication skills are essential for assertive interaction with others. Humans are social animals and communication is a very important part of our daily lives. Every interaction we have with another person including, face to face, over the phone, chatting online or even texting is communication happening, and we should have strong communication skills that will benefit every type of interaction we encounter.

There are four styles of communication: passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive.

The Passive Person: Passive behavior is the avoidance of the expression of opinions or feelings, protecting one’s rights, and identifying and meeting one’s needs. Passive individuals exhibit poor eye contact and slumped body posture, and tend to speak softly or apologetically. Passive people express statements implying that:

“I’m unable to stand up for my rights”; “I don’t know what my rights are” ; “I get stepped on by everyone” ; “I’m weak and unable to take care of myself” and “People never consider my feelings.”

The Aggressive Person: An aggressive individual communicates in a way that violates the rights of others. Thus, aggressive communicators are verbally or physically abusive, or both. Aggressive communication is born of low self-esteem, often caused by past physical or emotional abuse, unhealed emotional wounds, and feelings of powerlessness. Aggressive individuals display a low tolerance for frustration, use humiliation, interrupt frequently, and use criticism or blame to attack others. They use piercing eye contact, and are not good listeners. Aggressive people express statements implying that:

The other person is inferior, wrong, and not worth anything; The problem is the other person’s fault; They are superior and right; They will get their way regardless of the consequences; and They are entitled, and that the other person “owes” them.

The Passive-Aggressive Person: The passive-aggressive person uses a communication style in which the individual appears passive on the surface, but is really acting out anger in a subtle, indirect, or behind-the-scenes way. Passive-aggressive people usually feel powerless, stuck, and resentful. Alienated from others, they feel incapable of dealing directly with the object of their resentments. Rather, they express their anger by subtly undermining the real or imagined object of their resentments. Frequently they mutter to themselves instead of confronting another person. They often smile at you, even though they are angry, use subtle sabotage, or speak with sarcasm.

Passive-aggressive individuals use communication that implies:
“I’m weak and resentful, so I sabotage, frustrate, and disrupt” ; “I’m powerless to deal with you head on so I must use guerilla warfare” and “I will appear cooperative, but I’m not.”

An assertive individual communicates in a way that clearly states his or her opinions and feelings, and firmly advocates for his or her rights and needs without violating the rights of others. Assertive communication is born of high self-esteem. Assertive people value themselves, their time, and their emotional, spiritual, and physical needs. They are strong advocates for themselves — while being very respectful of the rights of others. Assertive people feel connected to other people. They make statements of needs and feelings clearly, appropriately, and respectfully. Feeling in control of themselves, they speak in calm and clear tones, are good listeners, and maintain good eye contact. They create a respectful environment for others, and do not allow others to abuse or manipulate them.
The assertive person uses statements that imply:

“I am confident about who I am”; “I cannot control others, but I control myself”; “I speak clearly, honestly, and to the point”; “I know I have choices in my life, and I consider my options. I am fully responsible for my own happiness” and “We are equally entitled to express ourselves respectfully to one another.”

Next, in order to be assertive, one must practice listening skills. Hearing is the act of perceiving sound by the ear. Assuming an individual is not hearing-impaired, hearing simply happens. Listening, however, is something that one consciously chooses to do. Listening requires concentration so that the brain processes meaning from words and sentences. Listening leads to learning, but this is not always an easy task. The normal adult rate of speech is 100-150 words per minute, but the brain can think at a rate of 400-500 words per minute, leaving extra time for daydreaming, or anticipating the speaker’s or the recipient’s next words. Listening skills can be learned and refined. The art of active listening allows you to fully receive a message from another person. Especially in a situation involving anger or a tense interchange, active listening allows you to be sensitive to the multiple dimensions of communication that make up an entire message. These dimensions include:

The occasion for the message: What is the reason why the person is communicating with me now?

The length of the message: What can the length of the message tell me about its importance?

The words chosen: Is the message being made formally? Is it with aloofness or slang?

The volume and pace: What clues do the loudness and speed give me?

The Pauses and Hesitations: How do these enhance or detract from the message?

Non-verbal clues: What does eye contact, posture, or facial expressions tell me about the message?

Empathy is also important in learning to be assertive. It is the capability to share and understand another’s emotions and feelings.

Empathetic listening is the art of seeking a truer understanding of how others are feeling. This requires excellent discrimination and close attention to the nuances of emotional signals. According to Stephen Covey in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, empathetic listening involves five basic tasks:

Repeat verbatim the content of the communication; the words, not the feelings.
Rephrase content; summarize the meaning of the words in your own words.

Reflect feelings; look more deeply and begin to capture feelings in your own words. Look beyond words for body language and tone to indicate feelings.

Rephrase contents and reflect feelings; express both their words and feelings in your own words.

Discern when empathy is not necessary – or appropriate.

Finally, in order to be effective in your assertiveness, you must learn to read body language which is a form of non-verbal communication involving the use of stylized gestures, postures, and physiologic signs which act as cues to other people. Humans unconsciously send and receive non-verbal signals through body language all the time. Non-verbal communication is the process of communication through sending and receiving wordless messages. It is the single most powerful form of communication. Nonverbal communication cues others about what is in your mind, even more than your voice or words can do.

According to studies at UCLA, as much as 93 percent of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues, and the impact of performance was determined 7 percent by the words used, 38 percent by voice quality, and 55 percent by non-verbal communication. If a conflict arises between your words and your body language, your body language rules every time.

Prof. Akindotun Merino is the CEO of Jars Education Group; a Professor of Psychology and a Mental Health Commissioner in California.

Share your successes and challenges:
Text: 909.681.0530 or 0705 629 0985
Instagram: @drakinmerino: Twitter: @drakindotun


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Mental Health

Strong Mental Will: A Tool For Fulfilment Of Dreams 



The Futility Of A Marital Chase
Dr Hope Nwawolo

By Hope Nwawolo

As a young girl in a boarding school many years back, l found myself interested in reading articles and novels. One day, l picked a piece of torn paper from the ground and a particular sentence caught my attention.  It read, “…whatever you are as a young girl will determine what you become as an adult’’.  Without giving a thought to the fact that situations and people could change according to circumstances, my young mind went to work immediately, particularly on how l wanted to look as a woman years later. At that time, l was on the fat side. I told myself that l would not want to develop a bulging tummy as a woman. I never even gave thought to the changes women go through as a result of child bearing. However, my young mind knew l needed to do something immediately in order to achieve what l wanted many years after.  I took my house dresses and school uniforms and used my hands to take in the sides so that l had to tuck in my tummy any time l wore them.  Somehow l felt l could control my tummy from getting bigger if l kept it tucked in most of the time. And of a truth l did and needless to say that some students liked my style and did same to their uniforms. Talk about setting the pace!

At the time of taking the decision, l never even knew it was lady-like to tuck in your tummy. All l was seeing was me as a woman in future, without a bulging tummy. It never crossed my mind that child bearing or any abdominal surgery could discourage one from tucking in the tummy at will. And years later, after having four births, of which two where through caesarean sections, I have maintained the habit of tucking in my tummy and this has helped in sustaining a moderate waist line even as l increase in years.  

Another striking instance was when l went in for my masters’ degree. I told myself l would not stop my academic education until l had my doctoral degree. Sadly, before l finished the masters’ programme, l came across several doctoral students who had been on the  programme for upward of six years and were not near completion. I got discouraged and quietly finished my programme and did not look back. My mental will bowed to the discouraging sights of struggling doctoral students. Luckily, years after, the dream came alive again and l began to nurse it. Even after a professional masters’ programme, eight years after my first masters, l was still nursing the idea of a doctoral degree. Finally, fifteen years after my first masters’, I was going through the newspaper in my office when l came across a postgraduate admission advert of a private university. There and then, a strong desire to apply for a doctoral degree came over me and was so strong that l did not tell anybody so as not to get discouraged, particularly because of the high school fees. As a matter of fact, being a civil servant should have been my worry, but l just felt strong in my mind that it would work out itself.

Honestly, from the time of my sending my application to getting admission, I did not have the money for the first year of the four and half years programme and l did not want to further stress my husband who was paying school fees for my sons in private secondary school and private university. All the same, l was strongly determined to start it with complete trust that God would make the way as l went through the journey. With an undaunted mental will, He did beyond my expectations, with awesome colleagues, lecturers that were as interested for us to complete the programme as at when due as we were. 

One may want to ask how l was able to overcome the initial financial hurdle. Like l said, with the burning passion in me and a complete trust in God to provide the necessary fees, my eyes became open to certain opportunities of side hustle with two of my friends, which gave me added income to my salary. I immediately cut down on certain expenses like buying new clothes and frivolous social outings, and prioritised my needs, particularly as the school allowed for instalment payment of fees, over the semesters. 

To become mentally strong, is about shifting your whole perspective, since it is human nature to be afraid of things that we cannot control or to crumble in the face of difficulty. It is the fight or flight response that is embedded in who we are. Unfortunately, once you are in that mind-set you are giving your mental power away to a circumstance and the only power that you have is really the power of perception. And when you shift your perception and just feel like: I can handle this, I can do this,  I can turn this around, I can use this to my good — then you gain that ability. 

Mental strength is about knowing that you are creating your reality, just like l did as a young girl in secondary school. We create our reality by our thoughts, our beliefs, our actions, our habits. And sure, sometimes things happen out of our control, but most of the time, we do not go far away from achieving our dreams.  

 Nwawolo, PhD, writes in via


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Mental Health

How To Identify Fake Friends



Prof. Stella Roy-Omoni

Most people surround themselves with fake friends who are killing them subtly and are smiling with them. You need to identify the genuineness of your so- called friend before he/she destroys you.

Identifying a fake friend can involve noticing certain behavioral patterns:

1. Lack of Support: They might be absent or unsupportive during your challenging times, showing disinterest or avoiding your needs.

2. One-sided Relationships: They tend to benefit more from the friendship without reciprocating care or effort.

3. Gossip and Betrayal: Fake friends might gossip about you behind your back or betray your trust.

4. Inconsistent Behavior: Their actions and words may not align consistently, making it hard to trust them.

5. Conditional Friendship: They’re around only when it suits their interests or when they need something from you.

6. Manipulative or Self-centered:They may manipulate situations for their benefit or constantly talk about themselves without considering your feelings or experiences.

Being mindful of these traits can help distinguish between genuine friends and those who may not have your best interests at heart. Trusting your instincts and observing behaviors over time often reveals the authenticity of a friendship.

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Mental Health

Building And Reinforcing Teams (3) (16)



Building And Reinforcing Teams (14)

By Akindotun Merino
When you find yourself excessively self-oriented, this is a sign that you need to deepen your humility and refocus on serving others. Here are some ways to help you foster a greater sense of humility:

Allow others to be first and foremost. Insisting on being the first in line, the first to raise your hand in a class, the first to get the parking spot, and so on, has a tendency to inflate one’s sense of self-importance. However, when you allow others to have the spotlight or be first, it gives you a better vantage point to appreciate their gifts and what they are able to bring to the table. And when you can do this, you actually find yourself in a better position to lead others because you understand how they can best contribute.

Don’t insist on being right. Nobody likes to be wrong, including other people. When you are wrong it puts you in a vulnerable position, which can be scary. However, vulnerability is often what makes a person beautiful and appreciable. Allowing others the legitimacy of their beliefs without correction from you is a charitable act.

Listen to what other people think more than telling them what you think. Dale Carnegie once said that the sweetest sound to anyone is the sound of their own voice. Really paying attention to what other people have to say without having to correct or undermine them helps you to stay oriented outward rather than being self-absorbed.

READ ALSO: Building And Reinforcing Teams 2 (15)

Try not to judge others. An old saying goes like this, “When you point a finger at someone else, you have three fingers pointing back at you.” While it is tempting to judge another person, to assess what they are doing and how they are doing it, when you do so, you are presuming that you know better. Unfortunately, unless you have lived the experiences of another person, you cannot know what is best for them. Your grasp on another person’s situation will always be incomplete because you don’t have the complete picture.

Finally keep your balance. Throughout the whole process of becoming a more effective leader and a more effective human being, two tools can help smooth the way. The first is developing a greater sense of gratitude. When you wake up in the morning, or while you drink your coffee or eat breakfast, either write down in a notebook or type on your computer a list of five things for which you are grateful. If you keep this gratitude journal every day, it will have a cumulative effect on your keeping a positive outlook.

The second tool’s importance cannot be understated. No matter how much you have on your plate at any given time, it is important that you take the time to play. Whether this is a hobby such as painting or an activity such as playing video games, make a point of scheduling play time for yourself at least two to three times a week. This will help you to balance out all the stress you have in your life.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
Instagram: @drakinmerino 

Twitter: @drakindotun


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