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19th Feb, 2012

Be Assertive - A trainer's insight
by James Mitchell on February 19, 2012 23:32


JCI Cambridge's January 'Be Assertive' workshop trainer Garin Rouch, explains further about what was covered during the session.

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In the session we looked at what assertiveness is, what stops people from being assertive and a structure for tackling the often difficult task of saying 'no'!

In a nutshell, assertiveness is being able to express your opinions and feelings, but in a way that also respects the rights of others. Assertiveness isn't about being aggressive or always getting your own way. It is about standing up for yourself constructively. It's not about winning, but about being able to walk away feeling that you have successfully and clearly put across what it is you wanted to say.

Asserting yourself means:

  • You can say 'Yes' when you mean 'Yes' and 'No' when you mean 'No'

  • You can communicate to others what you are feeling clearly and calmly

  • You do not let fear of conflict stop you from speaking

  • You feel good about yourself

  • You feel entitled to be who you are and to express what you feel


Being assertive has many benefits; others have more respect for you, you don't allow yourself to be mistreated, you benefit from healthier relationships and you have the confidence to make decisions and have a voice.


So if being assertive is the most effective and positive way to behave and communicate, why do we sometimes find it so difficult and end up behaving in ineffective negative ways?

We are heavily influenced by our flight or fight response, originating in prehistoric times. Thousands of years ago, human's response to dangers such as wild animals or opposing tribes was either to run away or attack the danger.

Today, our society is a lot more complex meaning we can't respond to danger in the same way. For example, if our boss threatens us with the sack we can't respond by jumping over the desk and attacking them with a spear (no matter how tempting it may be!).Alternatively, we can't just run out of the building back to our home!

Our modern non-assertive responses are:

  • Aggressive: Being arrogant, forceful or determined to get your own way.

  • Passive: Deferring your own needs and wishes in favour of others' needs and wants.

  • Passive-aggressive: indirect and manipulative communication and behaviour


In some situations you may feel capable of being assertive. But in other circumstances you may find it difficult to express yourself honestly and clearly. We asked JCI members to self-assess themselves and recognise their levels of assertiveness in 2 different contexts; at work and with friends. A lot of people were surprised with the results and took time to reflect on the reasons why they found it more difficult to be assertive in one area of their life compared to another.

There are a number of reasons why you may find it challenging to be assertive in different situations. These include your beliefs, your upbringing, relationships and levels of confidence. Your ability to assertive will also be influenced by other peoples' behaviour.

For example, with high unemployment and redundancy levels, a feeling of job insecurity means it can be difficult to assert our needs at work. We can find it difficult to say 'no' to a senior person making an unreasonable request even if it forces us into working longer hours or neglecting our own work.

As a final exercise, JCI members were given a structure for saying 'no'. In our experience as consultants to leading organisations, we found employees feel a lot of anxiety about the consequences of saying 'no'. People often don't say anything at all, agree to things they'd rather not or get landed with work that isn't theirs.

So, JCI members made a pledge to each other that they would say 'no' to a particular person or situation before the next session on the 21st February.  So when you go to the next session, make sure you ask JCI members who they said 'no' to and what happened!


This is the third time Outstand has delivered to JCI Cambridge and we always enjoy delivering sessions to JCI because of the lively debate and participation. The range of questions and the personal experiences many of you shared were really insightful and made for an extremely enjoyable evening.


If you would like to learn more about being more assertive in the workplace you can contact us today on 01223 911 811 or email us at


To find out what Stuart Young, one of JCI Cambridge's members thought of Garin's 'Be Assertive' workshop then read his latest blog.

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19th Feb, 2012

Be Assertive - January 2012 business workshop
by James Mitchell on February 19, 2012 23:04


JCI Cambridge's Committee Member, Stuart Young gives a round up of the latest business workshop - Be Assertive!!

Wow - another engaging and worthwhile presentation for JCI Cambridge and I was impressed. Delivered by Garin Rouch of Outstand he brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with us all about being assertive to make the most of opportunities.

The evening started with the normal networking and although this can be a scary prospect for some people, I must admit that everyone at JCI was really friendly creating a welcoming atmosphere.

After a bit of networking, snacking and drinking we took our seats. People tended to stay within the groups that they had been networking in however I managed to get a seat at the back in order to observe the engagement of the audience.....

Just as we got comfy, we had the first group exercise!

Our mission (should we choose to accept it), was to line up in groups of about 7 facing each other, balancing a garden cane on both of our index fingers, and lower it to the ground whilst ensuring that we all maintain contact.

Easy, I hear you say - I think not - just try it!

After the group exercise, the workshop which lasted about an hour taught attendees what is meant be assertiveness and the skills required to find business solutions in a manner that doesn't violate other people's rights or cause undue anxiety. The session helped members' develop techniques that will assist them to find solutions to business problems without putting people down, or having to back down yourself.

Afterwards, some people stayed behind and others left - the option is completely yours. All I would say is that compared to my other options for the evening, I know I chose wisely. I met a bunch of people with similar interests, I learned how to say no effectively, and had a really interesting and enjoyable night.

With restricted resources and a higher demand for additional work, isn't it about time that you were more assertive?

Well done to JCI Cambridge and look forward to the next workshop.


To find out more about what was covered at the 'Be Assertive' workshop, then read Garin Rouch's latest blog.

For more of JCI Cambridge's upcoming events visit our Events Diary.

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7th Feb, 2012

Blood donations welcome - 6th March
by James Mitchell on February 7, 2012 21:43


JCI Cambridge is supporting the blood donor service in 2012 and you can join us by just giving up a little of your time to donate some of your blood!

Blood is something we all expect to be there for us when we need it, but surprisingly only 4% of us give blood. Many people would not be alive today if it wasn't for the generosity of blood donors.

Book your donation appointment today!!

  • The NHS needs 7000 units of donated blood daily
  • One donation is broken down into three live saving products
  • Donations are used to replace blood loss after accidents, childbirth or surgery and to treat people with blood disorders and those undergoing cancer treatment
  • Most people are eligible to give blood, you just need to be aged 17 to 65 (for a first time donor), weigh over 7 stone 12 (50kgs) and be in generally good health


So why not book your appointment today for this upcoming session with the mini Bloodmobile visiting Mott McDonald in Cambridge?

Date:  Tuesday 6th March

Time:  Between 9.45am to 12.35pm & 2.25 - 4.55pm

Where:  Situated in the Car Park, Demeter House, Station Road

Contact:  BY APPOINTMENT ONLY – Please call the NBS on 0300 123 23 23 quoting postcode CB1 2RS


Can I give blood?

Most people can give blood, but you should not donate if:

  • You have a chesty cough, sore throat, cold sore or you are at the beginning of a cold
  • You are taking antibiotics
  • You are pregnant, or have had a baby in the last 6 months
  • You have had complicated work on your teeth or an extraction in the last 7 days; had a filling, scale or polish in the last 24hrs
  • You have received blood, or think you may have received blood, since 1st January 1980
  • You are currently awaiting results for any tests undertaken by your healthcare provider.


In the last four months you have:

  • Had a tattoo, skin piercing or semi-permanent make up
  • Had acupuncture, unless this was done by the NHS or you have the appropriate certificate of accreditation


In the last six months you have:

  • Visited a malarial area


You can visit the blood service website for general information or details of other sessions in the area.

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