2nd Empowerment Workshop: Assertive Communication
25 May 2018 called for the second workshop in T Project’s Empowerment Workshop Series, kindly funded by AWARE. Following up from last month’s Suicide Awareness theme, this month the ladies gained knowledge on Assertive Communication. The workshop was co-facilitated by social worker Mr Shan Menon and T Project’s founder Ms June Chua.
After starting off with an energizer game on transgender-focused General Knowledge, the program delved into different communication styles. June paired up with a participant to act out Passive, Aggressive and Assertive interactions. The ladies were able to identify the different communication styles and shared experiences where they exercised such communication. At the end of the exercise, the ladies took away a new assertive communication strategy – HEAL:
xpressing feeling appropriately,
ppropriate self-disclosure, and
istening to Others.
In learning how to better frame thoughts into words, Shan introduced ‘I statements’. June shared with the group how she used the statements when faced with tough situations that required her to manage her emotions and respond in a clear and calm manner. Most participants connected with her, with one sharing how she used an ‘I statement’ when in conflict which resulted in her resolving the conflict and eventually reconciling. Shan then went on to explain how vocabulary, non-verbal behaviors and voice inflections play unequal parts in every day communication. The ladies were surprised to find that vocabulary only played a 7% part in transmitting messages. This concertized the importance of placing more focus on non-verbal behavior and voice inflections. This was followed up with participants taking turns to engage in role plays and practicing their newly learned assertive communication skills. Amid injections of laughter, teasing and vulnerability, the learning the ladies took away were evident.
As the workshop wrapped up, participants shared their positive and negative experiences with communicating, especially at the workplace and with authoritative figures. They felt they would be able to apply the skills learned at the workshop to every day interactions.
Research shows that the oppression and discrimination of women often causes low self-esteem and can lead to unhealthy communication patterns. Studies on LGBT youth show that they have lower self-esteem than heterosexual peers, which can also lead to unhealthy communication patterns. What more for the transgender community that faces oppression in society?
With challenges faced by transgender women in communicating and negotiating with systems such as work, law enforcement and healthcare, it has been hypothesized that their needs are heightened. Without the ability to communicate assertively, the voices of transgender women continue to be forgotten, perpetuating oppression and affecting their sense of self. This workshop served those needs and the evaluation showed positive outcomes.
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Article written by Lavania Rajasuria
All Photos credited to Daryl Goh