Psychological Self-Help

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or a book. Ask a stranger for directions, change for a dollar, or a pen
or pencil. Ask a store manager to reduce the price of a soiled or
slightly damaged article, to demonstrate a product, or exchange a
purchase. Ask an instructor to help you understand a point, find extra
reading, or go over items you missed on an exam. Practice speaking
and making small talk, give compliments to friends and strangers, call
up a city official when you see something unreasonable or inefficient,
praise others when they have done well, tell friends or co-workers
experiences you have had, and on and on. Keep a diary of your
Time involved
Perhaps as little as a couple hours is needed, if you only have one
or two situations in which you want to improve. If you are generally
submissive, count on several hours for understanding, preparing,
practicing and actually changing. 
Common problems
Several problems have been mentioned above. Some people refuse
to admit their submissiveness. Some are afraid to change. If you do
change, some of your friends, relatives and/or co-workers may have
difficulty accepting such a basic change in personality. Tell them why
you want to be different; most will support you. If you ask for changes
in others, you are likely to be resisted and maybe resented. Appeal to
their sense of fairness. 
It is not uncommon for a formerly passive person to be so
successful in changing that he/she becomes overly demanding.
Perhaps the new found power goes to his/her head and he/she
becomes aggressive and obnoxious. If you can remain just as sensitive
to other people's rights as you are to your own, this isn't likely to
Effectiveness, advantages and dangers
Assertiveness training has been used with shy, anxious, depressed,
stressed, aggressive and other kinds of persons. There is "relatively
convincing evidence" that assertiveness training is effective, i.e. it
changes the trainee's behavior, at least in situations similar to those
used for practice during the training sessions (Rimm & Masters, 1974).
It is not certain that assertiveness generalizes to "novel" situations,
i.e. ones you haven't practiced or thought about. 
Furthermore, considering the hundreds of articles and the 15-20
major books proclaiming the usefulness of assertiveness training, it
may surprise you that there is very little scientific evidence that the
trainees' marriage, work place, friendships and family relations are
improved after learning to be assertive in a seminar (Eisler, Miller,
Hersen & Alford, 1974). Amazing, isn't it? In fact, there are hints that
an untrained spouse of a trainee may become less assertive, more
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