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Victor K. Pryles

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The Truth About Assertiveness
by Victor K. Pryles   

Last edited: Wednesday, August 13, 2003
Posted: Monday, August 11, 2003

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Assertiveness has gotten a bad name. People are becoming like sheep afraid to step out and be counted. This article addresses this issue and gives an outstanding example of just how far assertiveness has lost its value in todays society.

As I look around I find most people are like sheep.

They are so afraid to assert themselves and never wish to look pushy or demanding. I understand that. We have been taught as little children to 'be patient' be 'nice', 'don't make a fuss', 'don't draw undue attention to yourself.'


Let me give you an example of how far this lack of assertiveness has gone in our modern society.


On a 'hidden camera' TV show recently there was a 'spoof' set up to catch people being…people. I always enjoy these kinds of shows where our behavior is caught on camera without our knowing it.


This was the trick and game that Alan Funt was famous for with his 'Candid Camera' programs.


In this episode a person is sitting in a business office undergoing an interview for a job. The applicant (our victim) is seated in a chair directly across from the interviewer. Behind the executive is a large window that shows that the office is located in a high-rise skyscraper. The executive has his back to the window the applicant is facing it.


Well, during the interview process the executive interviewer gets a phone call and is busy talking on the phone as the job applicant waits patiently for him to finish…


Meanwhile outside the window--- a window washer is seen dangling from mid-air. He is obviously in trouble. His legs (which is all the interviewee sees) are kicking furiously and the workman is obviously trying to get his footing again.


This precarious situation continues for several minutes. What will the person watching this death dance so far above the ground do? Will he/she be assertive and yell: "My God, there's a man outside the window that's going to fall to his death!"


Will he/she interrupt the executive who is talking on the phone: "My God, hang up the phone and call for help!"

NO!

Again and again we see people just sit there in obvious agony over the situation developing just outside the window. They squirm in their seat, they open their mouths in horror…but not a sound comes out.


The situation becomes more and more desperate and finally to the person's absolute horror the body of the workman outside comes flashing by obviously careening to his death on the pavement so far below.


Even then these subjects say nothing. They may jump out of their seat, and even start crying. But they never once interrupt the person in authority on the phone and warn him of the impending danger.


Of course, this makes for hilarious television because we know it's all just a stunt and that no one is in any real danger out there on the ledge. We guffaw at the timidity that these people show, delighting in their agony and perplexity.


But deep down we should be concerned that 'assertiveness' has taken such a bad rap in our 'polite society' that even the obvious death of another human being will cause nary a stir from us.

Web Site: The Truth About Assertivness



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