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Educational Notes: EN1 Assertiveness, Communication & Organisation Essentials

Document Type: Notes for Educators / Facilitators / Mentors / Trainers: Document Number: # EN1

Assertiveness Communication & Organisation Essentials

The Genius Collaborative Author of This Document: Ray Murray Direct email:

Educational Notes: EN1 Assertiveness, Communication & Organisation Essentials Assertiveness:
People often confuse being Assertive, which is a positive thing, with being Aggressive or Bossy or Manipulative which are negative things. In the British Culture, and in many other cultures around the world, over the centuries it has become normal to replace Being Honest with Being Polite. These are not the same things. Being Assertive is essentially the same thing as Being Honest. Being Assertive simply consists of:   “Saying what needs to be said, how and when it needs to be said” “Doing what needs to be done, how and when it needs to be done”

This is extremely straightforward. However people can often struggle with the “How” part of saying or doing whatever it is that needs to be said or done. HOW you say or do something can produce a negative effect in the situation or for the person on the receiving end of your words or actions, whether or not you meant for a negative result to happen. Assuming that you meant for a positive result to happen, as a result of saying what needed to be said or doing what needed to be done, but you find that a negative result was what actually came about, then it is possible that you may need to improve your Communication Skills. On the other hand, simply because people are people, you could actually say or do something in the most appropriate way humanly possible, and still find that the person who is on the receiving end of your words or actions has a negative experience. In the latter situation, when the words or actions simply could not have been presented any better, the fact is that it is the RECIPIENT of your words or actions who lacks certain Communication Skills. Usually this kind of thing happens, for example, when the person does not have well developed Listening Skills or Comprehension Skills. Unless part of your work is to heal or otherwise help that person improve their Listening Skills or Comprehension Skills, then how they receive your skilfully presented words, or respond to your skilfully conducted actions is their responsibility, not yours. (So don’t beat yourself up). However, if the truth is that you actually could have said what needed to be said, or you could have done what needed to be done, in a more positive and more skilful way, then as a Positive Member of any team or community, you would do everyone a great service ~ yourself included ~ if you improve your Communication Skills.

The Genius Collaborative Author of This Document: Ray Murray Direct email:

Educational Notes: EN1 Assertiveness, Communication & Organisation Essentials Communication Skills:
There are basically two ways of Communicating which Human Beings can employ – these are Relatively Creative or Relatively Destructive ways of communicating with one another. Some educators would perhaps say that there is a third way of Communicating with one another which we can, theoretically, employ ~ and this is communicating in a Relatively Neutral way ~ but in reality, rather than in theory, we human beings tend to communicate with one another in ways that are Relatively Creative or Relatively Destructive. Between these two extremes of Creative Communication and Destructive Communication, we are essentially limited to five different types of communication, which is to say that we can communicate whatever we want to communicate with on another via:

Creative Communication: 1. Conversations 2. Discussions 3. Debates 4. Arguments 5. Fights Destructive Communication:
Now, as an Educator / Facilitator / Mentor / Coach or Trainer you may wish to explain the above a little further, by showing what each of the different methods of communicating generally look like. Let’s start with “Debates”. Debates: For example, perhaps by using a pen on a drawing pad, flip-chart or whiteboard etc., if you start with Debates, then a Debate looks like something this:

A Debate has movement to it. There are interactions between different participants, usually with different views, who are normally expressing Different Opinions – but the thing doesn’t really go anywhere. The people talking or otherwise communicating (maybe via email, for example) are not having a conversation that gets some place, they are really just going around and around, generally getting nowhere. This is the closest thing we humans can do to engage in Relatively Neutral Communication with one another – which is a polite way of saying that such Debates are usually pretty pointless exercises.

The Genius Collaborative Author of This Document: Ray Murray Direct email:

Educational Notes: EN1 Assertiveness, Communication & Organisation Essentials
Arguments: These are negative things. Arguments often start out as a Debate, or even commence as a Discussion or a Conversation, but an Argument only really becomes an Argument when things take a negative turn and the people involved shift from using Relatively Creative Communication to using Relatively Destructive Communication. And an Argument looks like this:

There is a distinct point to an Argument – but it serves a negative or destructive purpose, whether the person doing the arguing realises this or not. (Many people argue out of habit, not because they really want to engage in an argument – they may not go so far as ever getting into a Fight, but they may simply not have the necessary Communication Skills to be able to express themselves through the use of Debate or Discussion or Conversation. An Argument is only ever a relatively positive thing when the people who end up arguing had actually been engaged in a Fight – so an Argument is better than a Fight – but the place to aim for is a Discussion at worst, and ideally a Conversation to find true solutions to the situation. Fights: If the Conversation, Discussion, Debate or Argument take a really negative turn, then instead of only an Argument ensuing, a Fight of some kind will take place. And a Fight basically looks like this:

It is often said that the worst place for any Fight to take place is inside yourself – where You are Fighting with yourself, over this issue or that situation. And since none of us like to have such violent internal conflict going on inside ourselves, basically because it is likely to drive us crazy, we usually stop short of keeping any such internal Fight going, and instead engage in an internal dialogue which is an Argument or Debate or Discussion. Of course it is fair to say that it is better to have an Argument, Debate or Discussion going on inside our heads than to be so self-destructive as to actually allow our mind to Fight with itself, with one Thought or Idea battling it out against another Thought or Idea. But to be honest, the healthiest thing to have going on inside one’s mind is a state of Creative Consciousness – where the only Thoughts or Ideas we may have there are Creative ones.

The Genius Collaborative Author of This Document: Ray Murray Direct email:

Educational Notes: EN1 Assertiveness, Communication & Organisation Essentials
Discussions: Any type of Discussion is a positive thing and it basically looks like this:

A genuine Discussion is not a Debate, because a Discussion leads somewhere, rather than just going round and around and around. Like a Debate, a Discussion is simply a way of EXPLAINING something, to the best of one’s ability. Whereas an Argument or a Fight is what people get into when they can’t quite EXPLAIN themselves, and instead slip into COMPLAINING about a person, a thing or a situation instead of simply EXPLAINING their point of view in a less agitated manner. The place a good Discussion leads into is a Conversation. Conversations: A true Conversation is always uplifting, it has a point to it, and it serves a Positive Purpose. It looks something like this: Serving The Same Positive Purpose

Person A Person B

A genuine Conversation is a very Creative thing and the only thing that happens between two or more people who are engaged in a genuine Conversation is actually PLAIN TALKING. They are making statements. They are making observations. They are simply, from their own perspective:  “Saying What Needs To Be Said” – about a person, thing or situation, in order to serve some Positive Purpose.

They are absolutely NOT engaging in any form of COMPLAINING, and they will do very little actual EXPLAINING. They are essentially stating, “This is how it appears, from my perspective”.

The Genius Collaborative Author of This Document: Ray Murray Direct email:

Educational Notes: EN1 Assertiveness, Communication & Organisation Essentials
In a bona fide Conversation, a person is essentially making a simple statement and he or she will generally be communicating (verbally or otherwise) something along the following lines:    “This is what I see, think, feel or require” (When describing something in the Present) “This is what I saw, thought, felt or required” (When describing something of the Past) “This is what I foresee, imagine, sense or will require” (When describing something of the Future)

And in a bona fide Conversation, HOW this is communicated also plays a very subtle, but extremely important role. For example, if you were to say something along the lines of:  “Well, I think that it should be done this way”

HOW you say that will determine if you are starting a Conversation or a Discussion or a Debate or an Argument or even setting the stage for a Fight to ensue. If you are Assertive, you will be coming from a completely Honest place on the inside, which has NO SELFISH AGENDA. And that of course brings us all the way back to the importance of knowing when we are being Assertive, rather than Aggressive or Bossy or Manipulative etc.

The Genius Collaborative Author of This Document: Ray Murray Direct email:

Educational Notes: EN1 Assertiveness, Communication & Organisation Essentials Being Organised:
Normally any enterprise in the first weeks, months or even first couple of years of its existence is not actually an “Organisation”. It is more likely to be a “Disorganisation”. In fact, the idea that “We are the ‘so-and-so’ Organisation” is something of a misnomer, since Organisation per se, is more of an ongoing process than an end result. Essentially, when a group of people are working together to create a new Enterprise / Project / Business or “Organisation”, their unspoken ideal is to get to a place where they are all working together in complete harmony, where everything is flowing smoothly, where life is relatively easy, and where getting the work done is less like doing a job and more like experiencing a joy. Some people do manage to achieve this, and when they do, then their “Organisation” is composed of true companions, who are enjoying a shared journey, and they have chosen to stick together because they agree with some common Positive Purpose and they love doing whatever it is that they do. When an “Organisation” reaches this stage, it could be called a genuine “Company”, which is a term that relates to “A Group of True Companions” and unlike the situation in many “Organisations”, where a culture of FEAR can exist, which inhibits Honest Communication and Assertiveness, as well as Creativity, the norm in a genuine “Company” of true and companions is a culture of TRUST. As an Educator / Facilitator / Mentor / Coach or Trainer, you may wish to expand on the above with your colleagues, students or clients and explain about Synergy, Energy and Entropy. Briefly, anything that we think, say or do takes place against a sort of backdrop, or it takes place in some kind of environment. That backdrop or environment may be one of:    Synergy or Energy or Entropy

And what happens when a person or organisation (or anything) is doing whatever they do against these backdrops, or in such environments, is this: Synergy: If you are trying to achieve anything against a backdrop or in an environment of Synergy, then you will find that things happen with EASE. Positive Synchronisities will become commonplace. Life is better. Joy is the norm. Everything flows more harmoniously and you are ON Purpose. Entropy: On the other hand, if you are trying to achieve anything against a backdrop or in an environment of Entropy, then you will find that things happen with DIFFICULTY. Negative Accidents are likely to become commonplace. Life is tough. Jobs become chores. Everything feels stuck, blocked or draining and flow either slows down, or stops completely. You are OFF Purpose. Energy: In between the backdrops or environments of Synergy and Entropy you will find yourself in an environment, or trying to achieve results, against a backdrop of Energy. Here you will find that things happen through BUSY-NESS. Life is busy. Jobs are just jobs. Everything is done in a routine sort of way, and any results that are achieved are achieved neither with EASE, nor are they especially achieved with DIFFICULTY. The job gets done in a sort of “Neutral” or “Automatic” way. Things do flow, but not in a particularly remarkable way. You are INDIFFERENT to Purpose. And the relevance of all this to Being Organised is illustrated on the following page: The Genius Collaborative Author of This Document: Ray Murray Direct email:

Educational Notes: EN1 Assertiveness, Communication & Organisation Essentials

The Value of Being Organised
Environment or Backdrop: How The “Organisation” Achieves Its Results:

(Positive) Synergy

Results with EASE

Ad Infinitum

Being Organised

Results with BUSY-NESS

Entropy (Negative)

Results with DIFFICULTY

Dead End

The above diagram illustrates the value of Being Organised. The main difference an “Organisation” will notice between Being Organised compared with Being Disorganised, is that any results which they were able to achieve when they were Disorganised would have been achieved with DIFFICULTY, whilst the more skilled they become at Being Organised, the more they will find that they achieve results with EASE. Furthermore, they are also likely to achieve better and perhaps even different results as a result of Being Organised. The majority of new businesses have so much Entropy (DIFFICULTY) to deal with, that they rarely survive for more than a few months or a few years. Those businesses which do manage to survive, and begin to thrive, despite any environment or backdrop of Entropy, will have done so either through being extremely lucky, which can happen, or, more likely, through being highly competent at Being Organised. So what does “Being Organised” entail for any organisation, of any size? There are essentially two parts of Being Organised. 1. The first part relates to “Who Is On Board” ~ the people in “The Organisation” 2. The second part relates to “Ticking All The Boxes” ~ what those people have to do, individually and collectively, in order for them all to be highly competent at Being Organised. These two parts to Being Organised are illustrated on the following pages.

The Genius Collaborative Author of This Document: Ray Murray Direct email:

Educational Notes: EN1 Assertiveness, Communication & Organisation Essentials

Being Organised ~ Part 1 ~ Who Is On Board?
A business or an organisation is not a static thing, designed to go nowhere. It is supposed to move, evolve, achieve results, have a history, get from a state of being a Disorganisation to being a genuine Company of true companions. So you could think of any business or organisation as being a vehicle or vessel that contains people who are all working together in order to “Take the enterprise from point A to point B and beyond”. We will use the analogy of a boat or ship, where everyone inside “The Organisation” has to wear one or more hats, has to take on one or more areas of responsibility, in order to make sure that the enterprise is highly competent at Being Organised. We will call our ship, The Enterprise. Using the boat analogy, the key “Hats” that must be worn by everyone are as follows: 1. The Captain 2. The Navigator 3. The Helms-Person 4. The Chandler 5. The Look-Out 6. The Crew If you are a one-person “Organisation”, perhaps just starting out as a business, then you obviously have to do everything. You have to wear all of the hats – but each hat requires its wearer to have specific skills, and to adopt a specific role on the boat or ship. The Captain: He or she is there to SEE the Synergy, Energy and Entropy they are each working with or against. He or she is supposed to be able to SEE the Big Picture and hold the Vision of the enterprise He or she is supposed to be able to SEE the best way forward. He or she is supposed to be able to SEE what is happening throughout The Enterprise. He or she is supposed to be able to SEE how well, or how badly, the ship is faring on its journey. He or she is supposed to be able to SEE how everyone on board is feeling and BEING. All OK? He or she is supposed to be able to SEE how well everyone on board is DOING, whatever they are there to do. But the Captain is not really there to DO very much. Rather he or she is primarily there in order to SEE That The Right Things Get Done. The Navigator: This person on a real ship looks at charts, plots the course of the ship, makes sure that they are headed in the right direction and so forth. Essentially, in a business, the Navigator gets lots of relevant information, sorts through this, and gives “bite-sized pieces” of information to whoever needs it, in good time.

The Genius Collaborative Author of This Document: Ray Murray Direct email:

Educational Notes: EN1 Assertiveness, Communication & Organisation Essentials
The Helms-Person: The Helmsman or Helmswoman is the person on a real ship who is in charge of the “steering wheel”. In a business, he or she would be the General Manager, responsible for generally keeping things on course. He or she would also be responsible for things like Time Management, Job Allocations and The Wise Use of Resources. The Chandler: Strictly speaking, a Chandler is not normally found on board a ship. The Chandler is the person who owns the shop or warehouse at the docks, which is full of all the Ropes, Equipment, Sails, Maps etc., etc., etc., that any boat of ship may need to conduct their voyage as safely as possible. However, for our purposes, using some poetic licence, The Chandler is regarded as being part of The Enterprise and he or she is one of the people that you need to have On Board – one of the people you need to be working with very closely and very directly, in order to make sure that:  The right resources (including people) are in place to get any job done, as easily as possible. The right resources (including people) can be found and quickly brought in, then put into place, in the case of an emergency. The right resources (including people) are up to doing the job that those resources were put in place to do.

The Look-Out: On a real ship, this is the “Boy in the crow’s nest” – right at the top of the highest mast, looking out for ice-bergs, land, rocks, bad weather on the horizon and anything that could be dangerous, or beneficial, or of interest to The Enterprise. This is a hugely important job – yet in most businesses there is usually NO-ONE who has been specifically given the responsibility of doing this job. Usually the Captain takes on this job – because his or her role is all about SEEING – but if there are enough people in The Enterprise to allow The Captain to hand the role of Look-Out over to another Crew Member, then that should be done. The Look-Out in the business context can appear to have a doddle of a job. He or she can appear to not really have a job – when the business climate is fine, and The Enterprise is sailing along nicely. But look how many Enterprises were caught by surprise by the Economic Storm that hit the world in 2008? If businesses realised that having a Look-Out was a very smart thing to do, and invested in keeping a vigilant Look-Out on board their enterprise, they would massively increase their chances of avoiding troubled waters, avoiding ice-bergs and finding their way to a fair wind and a safe harbour. In the business context, The Look-Out is responsible for Looking Out For:    The safety and wellbeing of the crew. The safety and wellbeing of The Enteprise. The kind of business environment (or waters) they are going through, and what it looks like towards the horizon. The Genius Collaborative Author of This Document: Ray Murray Direct email:

Educational Notes: EN1 Assertiveness, Communication & Organisation Essentials
The Crew: Obviously on a real boat or ship, The Crew are all the people who don’t have any specific responsibilities like being a Captain or Navigator and so on. The Crew are the people who get on with doing routine tasks, day in day out, to keep The Enterprise sailing as smoothly as possible. Of course The Captain, Navigator, Helms-Person and so forth are also Members of The Crew, and they too can do routine tasks – but the danger is that in some businesses The Captain gets too involved in DOING to be good at SEEING. If The Captain is also The Navigator, which is often the case in small businesses, then he or she can very soon find that The Enterprise has veered off course and is heading for rocks or troubled waters, because he or she was too busy DOING instead of “SEEING That The Right Things Were Being Done” Most people LOVE being just part of The Crew – because their level of responsibility is often relatively low. In an ideal “Organisation” however, every single Member of The Crew would be able to competently do the job of every other Member of The Crew. So if the situation demanded it – say in the instance where The Captain or Navigator is off sick – any member of The Crew could put on The Captain’s hat or The Navigator’s hat and do a decent enough job until The Captain and Navigator got back to work. This ability to put on different hats, and take on extra responsibility for a short period of time, is often called Situational Leadership. And in fact in many modern companies people switch hats rather frequently, depending on the situation. Basically, the best person for the job “steps up to the plate”, as they say in America, and takes on the responsibility that might normally be classed as being outside of their pay grade or outside of their normal work. OK – So this is all about the different Kinds of People you need to have On Board your particular Enterprise. If you don’t have enough people, and you don’t have the right people, to competently wear each specific hat – then certain individuals will have to wear more than one hat.

The Genius Collaborative Author of This Document: Ray Murray Direct email:

Educational Notes: EN1 Assertiveness, Communication & Organisation Essentials

Being Organised ~ Part 2 ~ Ticking All The Boxes:
OK – so if inside your “Organisation” or “Department” etc., you have been able to identify WHO should be wearing which specific hat or hats, obviously they may need extra training or guidance in order to become highly competent at wearing those hats. However, let’s assume that that has all been done, and everyone knows which Hat they are supposed to wear in any given situation, in order for everyone to be highly skilled at Being Organised then you have to also be able to “Tick All The Boxes” – indicated below: Regardless of whichever hat anyone is wearing, in order for everyone individually and collectively to be good at Being Organised, then everyone needs to be able to have the following at all times:

Box 1 
CLARITY regarding what is required.

Box 2 
Accurate Description of their Role and Responsibilities… Accurate Job Description… Accurate Task Specification(s)… …falling out of the Clarity at [1] above.

Box 3 
Actual or Potential COMPETENCY to do whatever it is they have to do.

Box 4 
Actual or Potential COMFORT in doing whatever it is they have to do

Box 5 
Appropriate Resources (including Time and Fun!) with which to do whatever it is they are required to do ~ with EASE!

So – To Summarise, “Being Organised”…
If everyone in The Enterprise knows when, how and where to wear the Hats they need to wear, in order to do a good job… And… If everyone in The Enterprise achieves and maintains CLARITY and EASE ~ plus all the bits in between, as detailed above… Then… You and your enterprise will be truly competent at Being Organised and you will increase your chances of corporate survival enormously! The Genius Collaborative Author of This Document: Ray Murray Direct email:

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