ASSERTIVENESS – The art and tact in communication

“Be Assertive!” It is not as easy as it is said! Assertiveness is quite complicated and one of the supreme forms of art to be learned in communication. Being assertive is to appropriately communicate one’s convictions without affecting existing congeniality amongst the parties that communicate. It is a way of respectfully disagreeing without losing the sense of harmony.

Assertiveness and diplomacy are considered different although, diplomacy is synonymous with assertiveness. Hence is the false dichotomy in terms of connotation. Here is one of the nicest stories picked, as I felt it is the best to demonstrate assertiveness: Once upon a time, a Lieutenant General initiates a great party for his troop in a grand hotel. The hotel management takes pride in taking the opportunity to host the party and so makes the arrangements as to keep up to the grandeur. They take utter care in decorating every trivial detail from a chandelier borne ceiling to finely polished wooden floor. Flowers, lights, live music, and what not! All arranged to add magnificence to the splendid evening! The specialty about the dining is silver cutlery and exotic brands and wide range of beverages.

As the party begins, all the guests sit around a table bearing delectable dishes, ready to savour. While serving, a bearer notices one of the army majors silently drops a silver spoon and a fork into his pockets. But, the bearer has no guts to confront him and hence decides to bring this to the notice of his manager. Even the manager himself hesitates as he could neither dare to question him nor check him as the Major might simply bluff or claim to be innocent. Also, confronting him might ruin the reputation of the hotel, causing either loss of next big deal on the way or even his job.

The manager cannot even ignore the complaint as he remains accountable for any missing cutlery. A perfect catch-22 indeed! He thinks that only the Lieutenant can be of his rescue and puts in a word to him. Taken aback and embarrassed by the demeaning act of the Major, the Lieutenant assures, he would deal with the situation.

So, without confronting the Major in a curt manner, he simply walks up to the Major and gently whispers in his ears, “Major, we are caught by the hotel management. Let’s put the cutlery back in place. Shall we?” With an embarrassed grin on face, he does as the Lieutenant says and the Lieutenant walks back to his chair with poise while he gives a gentle wink and a smile to the banquet manager as an assurance that he can keep his calm .

The Lieutenant conveyed what exactly has to be communicated but with assertiveness. He put forward his opinion in a straight forward, honest, open yet in a respectful way without offending the Major and got the resolution. Assertiveness is associated with right intonation, tact and art of diplomacy and common sense as well. It is innate in some people whereas an art to be practiced for some. The more practice, the better it is!

Now, I would like to ask, is there any other way that you can think of how assertive the Lieutenant could have communicated? And, can you think of any other stories or examples or real life scenarios that you could think of where assertiveness can be used? Do post in your comments 🙂

Have a happy learning 🙂

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