Assertiveness training on tap

If you find yourself saying yes when you really want to say no or constantly putting everyone else’s needs ahead of your own, you might want to sign up for the Women’s Resource Centre’s upcoming workshop series.

A popular one-time session, the WRC has expanded its assertiveness workshop to a month-long training series aimed at equipping women with the right skills to effectively communicate their needs.

‘We’re easily assertive with people who will accept it but with those who don’t, we back down and shift to a different communication style,’ said Cindy Blekaitis, counsellor and educational facilitator at the WRC.

‘We especially do this as women. The assumption is that we are expected to put everybody else’s needs first. But we need to understand what assertiveness is, and realise that you have the right to put yourself first.’

It will not only help build confidence and self-esteem but encourage better relationships and greater honesty in communication, she said.

Assertiveness for Women training is being held every Thursday in October, beginning 5 Oct. It runs from 6pm to 7.30pm at the Centre, and is free of charge.

The workshops will cover a range of topics, including comparing assertiveness with other communication styles – passive-aggressive, aggressive and passive – challenging mistaken assumptions and self-esteem building.

Role playing and interactive exercises will be incorporated to help build skills.

‘There are crucial points when you want to be assertive,’ said Ms Blekaitis. ‘It’s about challenging what is blocking you from being assertive at those times.’

Assertiveness is the ability to express yourself without stepping on the rights of others, she explained.

‘Assertiveness basically means the ability to express your thoughts and feelings in a way that clearly states your needs and keeps the lines of communication open with others.’

Assertive people ask questions, seek answers, look at all points of view and engage in meaningful, open-ended dialogue without anger, hurt feelings or defensiveness.

Traditionally, woman and girls have been socialized to believe it is unfeminine to be assertive, and that it’s a trait more associated with men, noted Ms Blekaitis.

But by communicating your needs – and rights – there will be fewer misunderstandings.

‘Your boundaries are clearer. It allows you to have quality relationships with people rather versus superficial,’ she said.

‘It gives you more energy and more confidence.’


To register for this free assertiveness training series, call the Women’s Resource Centre at 949-0006 or email [email protected]. Participants must be prepared to attend all four sessions. Space is limited.

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