If you haven’t had a chance to listen to David Mitchell’s funny yet perceptive Radio 4 series Behaving Ourselves: Mitchell on Manners do catch up while you can.
He takes a very broad brush to a fascinating subject and posits the question whether our manners and politeness are going downhill. He looks at the history of etiquette and manners and how they have impacted on the way we behave.
I was delighted to be included in this series when David Mitchell came to Impact Factory to work with me on Assertiveness issues.
Now, of course, David has made a career of combining a razor sharp wit and self-deprecation, which allows him to be incisive and apologetic at the same time, which in turn makes his insights more digestible and fabulously entertaining.
As he says in the Assertiveness episode he was a bit sceptical about what I could do for him since he expected – as many people do – that our aim on our Assertiveness courses was to change him and turn him into something he isn’t.
This really is a common concern of people who are thinking about coming along to one of our Assertiveness courses – that somehow we will attempt personality transplants and transform a shy, apologetic, introvert into a bold, in your face extrovert.
Nothing could be further from the truth or what we do in the training room.
As I explained to David, you can be as apologetic as you want, you can give in and accommodate others, you can put yourself out – no problem! The problem arises when you resent it; when you’re all smiley and pleasant on the outside and seething on the inside.
That’s what our assertiveness courses are all about; not to make you aggressive and rude but to help you align the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’ behaviours so you aren’t in turmoil.
Manners are incredibly important and vital for all of us. One of the purposes of parenting, as far as I’m concerned, is to turn somewhat feral creatures into somewhat civilised ones, who know how to say please and thank you and don’t always wreck the furniture in other people’s homes. You know what I mean!
Seriously though, manners really do oil the wheels of interaction between people. However, many unassertive people get hoodwinked (or hoodwink themselves) into thinking that good manners means giving in, obliging, making it all right for others while at the same time not making it OK for themselves.
Assertiveness is not selfishness, it’s not bad manners, it’s not demanding or being pushy.
What it is, is understanding that you have choice in how you react to what others expect of you. If someone expects you to stay late to finish a report because you’ve always stayed late when asked then doing something different will be new behaviour for you and surprising for the other person. When you do something different it may very well feel odd, even uncomfortable.
On our Assertiveness courses we unpick all of that and spend a goodly chunk of time looking at all the behavioural options at your disposal – rudeness and aggression are not included.
If you’d like to savour the same Assertiveness techniques that David Mitchell did, join us at our Assertiveness Breakfast Taster on Wednesday 9th March 8.30-10.00 am, where you can sample our assertiveness ‘wares’.
To book a place (space is limited to 40), email Rose Youssef at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or Phone: 020 7226 1877
Check out Impact Factory’s Assertiveness and Conflict Management courses.