I really feel this is TOTALLY AWESOME! I'm quoting this from a Meridian Magazine article titled "What do you do to get your way"
"In May 2009, I allowed the BBC Britain to bring two troubled British
teens to my home to make a show called “The World’s Strictest
Parents.” They brought me two seventeen-year-olds named Hannah and
James. For two days Hannah and James had tantrums and tried every way
they could think of to initiate power struggles and force us to become
aggressive. This is generally called, “button pushing.” What they
didn’t know was that I got rid of all my buttons long ago.
On day three, the teens were all of the sudden completely different.
They were obedient and generally wanted to communicate effectively. I
was really impressed with their new personalities. I said to Hannah,
“Hannah, why did you suddenly stop yelling and getting angry?”
She said, “Well, at my house if I yell, I get my way, or someone at
least yells back. But, here you always stay so calm that it doesn’t
do any good. So, I just figured I might as well try staying calm
too.” Because Hannah saw that her aggression wouldn’t work, she
was able to completely change the way she communicated. So what did
Hannah give up her aggression for? We taught her assertiveness, which
was a new way to get her way. (To see the BBC show go
When most people think of communication, they think of words. While
words are a vital way to communicate, there are many ways
communication happens. Body language actually communicates even more
than words do. A person’s body, eyes, and over all feeling expressed
speaks much more about what the person thinks and feels than words
We all know this. We form our opinions and moods from these intuitive
clues all the time. So, why don’t we think more carefully about how
we move, and express ourselves then? We get fooled into thinking that
we see other people’s moods and feelings more vividly than they see
ours. People see everything you do, and hear more in your words than
what you say. They hear your tone, and the feeling carried by the
tone is what speaks to their hearts.
So, what about those people who choose to say nothing? Are they
impossible to read? No way! They are easier to read in many ways.
They think they are controlling themselves by shutting down all
communication, but what they don’t know is that people can’t ever
stop communicating. Choosing to be absent or silent is also a
communication of how you feel about other people and your disapproval
of an issue, or distance from the other person. These communications
are obvious and cannot be hidden by the best actor or actress.
How Do You Try to Get YOUR WAY?
There are four ways people generally try to get their way; by being
passive, aggressive, passive/aggressive, or assertive. If you don’t
know which way you generally try to gain control of situations and
other people’s emotions, then take this little test.
Let’s say you are in a check-out line at a grocery store and someone
cuts in front of you in line. What do you do?
Do you grab the person and shove them aside? Do you very loudly
say,”Hey, I was here first. The back of the line is over there.”
If you find yourself acting like this in similar situations, then you
are aggressive and try to gain control of your environment by force.
Maybe you are more inclined to say nothing and focus on thoughts like,
“People are so rude now days. No one even looks to see if I am
here. Oh well, its better not to say anything because I never know
what they might do if I spoke up. It’s better to keep the peace.”
If you think things like this and often do nothing then you are
passive to gain control of your surroundings and keep the peace.
Perhaps you are the kind of person who responds by saying nothing to
the person who cut in front of you, but might make a rude remark about
the person who cut in line to the person behind you or to your
impatient child. You might “accidentally” get too close to the
person in front of you with your cart and make it difficult for them
to move, or just glare at the back of their head and think hateful
things about the person for a good while after the person leaves the
store. During all of this you will feel proud of yourself for not
showing emotional weakness by yelling at the person. If you take all
the control inside yourself and argue with body language and feelings
instead of with forceful actions and words then you are a passive/
These three manipulative responses are the most common ways to react
to the situation described above, but they are not the only way to
handle the situation. Instead, you could choose to assume the person
in front of you is unaware of the line and kindly suggest a correction
of the problem. It would look like this. You tap the line-cutter on
the shoulder in a kind way and say, “Excuse me.” After the person
turns around and can see eye-to-eye, you disagree in an appropriate
way. In my home we call this skill disagreeing appropriately. It is
a fundamental skill to creating a successful, happy adult.
The disagreement would go something like this, “Sir, I know you
probably didn’t notice before, but this is not the back of the line.
The back of the line is actually over there. Would you mind moving to
the back of the line instead of right here? Thank you.” Speaking
calmly, with respect and assuming the best of the person who you are
communicating with is called being assertive. Assertiveness is the
desired way to get what you want or what is right, and it works.
Sure, you could be assertive and the other person could come back at
you with aggression, but this is usually very rare. Remember, that
the feeling of your body, voice tone, and soul will be felt by the
other person. So, if you choose to really love the offender and see
his side for a minute, and communicate those feelings to him while
setting the situation right at the same time, then he will have a hard
time returning aggression for those kind feelings and actions.
However, if a person chooses to be aggressive to you when you are
assertive, then the best thing to do is to say, “Oh” and pity the
person for obviously having such a bad day or being out of control at
the minute. It’s okay to see another person fail at communicating.
Love them anyway. (I like using “Oh.” It is the perfect
statement. It says “I hear you” but doesn’t say “I agree.”)
Aggressive people choose to rage because it feels powerful for a
minute and releases tension. They choose aggression to get what they
want because they know other people don’t know how to handle their
emotions. Aggressive people tend to believe that there are two kinds
of people; the kind that use aggression and get what they want and the
kind that back down and never get what they want.
My British child-for-a-week, Hannah proved this when she said, “Well,
at my house if I yell I get my way or someone at least yells back…”
Have you noticed that the majority of adults are not aggressive in
public? The reason this is the case is because it is generally agreed
that aggression is something that happens with frustrated children;
not adults. Children have to be taught to overcome aggression.
However, in private, many adults prove they never really learned to
handle their aggressive tendencies. They don’t know they can have
good relationships by being assertive instead of aggressive.
Passive people think aggressive people are scary, and choose not to
battle things out with them for self preservation. They don’t know
about being assertive and think that their only options are either to
be aggressive, which looks out of control, or to be passive, or
passive/aggressive which seems like control. Truly passive people see
themselves as weak and everyone else as strong. They take abuse from
other people because they just don’t know how to handle it. Passive
people feel walked on and frustrated because no one really understands
them or cares about their wishes and feelings.
Sometimes passive people attempt to communicate but get shut down
easily and choose to become reconciled to their situation because they
don’t feel heard. Seeking attention by expressing their weaknesses,
or having “pity parties,” is common with passive people.
You may wonder how a passive person could feel like they are gaining
control over their environment by being passive and backing down. The
passive person controls the environment by keeping the peace and being
able to stop an argument. They know that if they back down to the
other person’s wishes then they can control most of the responses of
the other person and have less tension. Again, truly passive people
are rare because a truly passive person has to choose passiveness for
the sake of peace, and then not desire any change that would put the
peace in jeopardy.
The reason truly passive people are rare is because most passive
people would fall into the category of passive/aggressive. Instead of
backing down from confrontation for the sake of peace the passive/
aggressive person backs down for force. They see that the person who
says less is not as vulnerable as the person who says more. They
completely buy into Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “It is better to not
say anything and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove
Saying nothing feels powerful to passive/aggressive people. They use
their silence to make their argument. They only want communication if
the other person will see their way. If the passive/aggressive person
doesn’t think his idea will be adopted as the best, then he will not
offer it up. Passive/aggressive parents might leave a child who
isn’t ready to go on time. The passive/aggressive spouse is the kind
who sits in the car on Sunday mornings with a scowl on her face
feeling superior to all those not ready on time for church. Her
actions communicate, “I’m ready; it’s obviously all your fault we
are late.” Her body and feelings do all the arguing.
Passive/aggressive people put up emotional walls. They close
themselves off from other people and choose not to do any verbal
communication assuming they are choosing no communication. What they
don’t know is that they are communicating.
Their body movements and argumentative feeling of their soul are
easily felt. They feel distant because they have made themselves
thus. Their silence tells everyone on the other side of the wall
this, “I don’t agree with you. I feel like not talking but know
that if I talk to you I will feel better. I want to be understood. I
want you to see things the way I see them. I feel so alone. You just
don’t get it. Because you don’t value my opinions I feel like our
relationship is ruined right now. Do you really care what I think and
feel? My opinions are important…”
This really is what they are trying to say, whether they have thought
about it or not. As a parent or spouse it is helpful to know that the
person is shutting you out to get your attention and encourage
relationship building. It is tempting to be passive/aggressive too
and let the wall become stronger and taller, but that will not take
care of what the passive/aggressive person is really asking for;
attention, understanding and an insight into how to communicate with
Passive/aggressive people can seem difficult to connect with, but they
are screaming in a silent way for connection and acceptance. An
assertive spouse, friend, or parent can change these hearts.
Assertiveness is the only problem-solving method which isn’t
manipulative! It doesn’t need to be because assertive people have
the power of self-government. Their reaction is about them
controlling themselves not them controlling others. They know how to
keep their emotions controlled, while still problem-solving
situations. They are calm, friendly, loving and understanding while
at the same time firm and principled.
Assertive problem solvers recognize that they have the power to
communicate either with love or contempt and choose love. They really
seek to understand what the other person might have been thinking or
feeling. Next, they lovingly describe the situation, and suggest a
remedy or give an instruction. Then they trust that the person is
good and wants to choose the right choice, even if the choice doesn’t
always turn out as planned. An assertive person isn’t afraid to talk
about situations and feelings. They believe that open honest
discussion is the key to solving a problem. In fact, assertive people
usually instigate healthy, humble discussion.
Assertive people are not afraid of aggressive people because they are
secure. Assertive people do not rage because they trust their
communication skills. Assertive people do not build up emotional
walls because they know that relationships are the most important part
of communication. Are you assertive? I haven’t always been.
The Assertive Home
I gave my parents most of their gray hairs with my aggression and
passive/aggression in my younger years and have had many family
arguments over the years which were all about building up walls. But,
11 years ago I learned there was another way to get what I wanted; to
Once I realized this skill was desirable above all other problem
solving skills I knew I had to improve upon it and teach it to my
children so they wouldn’t be the kind of children I was and so they
could be “joyful, happy adults, who know what their mission in life
is and can’t wait to fight for it, and have solid relationships with
God and family.” (Parenting A House United by: Nicholeen Peck) This
is my goal, and teaching assertive problem solving is my way. I call
it teaching self-government, and it has changed my life.
Talk about these four attitudes toward solving relationship problems
and disagreements as a family. If each person is aware of the four
different ways to see situations they are more likely to choose the
assertive way. Then the whole family can communicate more lovingly
More on principles of Teaching Self-Government and effective parenting
can be found onNicholeen’s blog.
I'm still alive
11 months ago