Teaching Assertiveness to International Students in the United States


This presentation describes an approach to teaching assertive communication skills to international students in the United States. Assertiveness involves expressing one's personal rights and feelings; standing up for one's rights while respecting the rights of others; believing one has a right to one�s feelings, beliefs and opinions; and viewing oneself as equal to others, while also treating others as equals. Although many American psychologists believe that assertive communication is a critical component of self esteem and healthy relationships, students often do not have the knowledge and skills to communicate assertively. Some international students are at a particular disadvantage because what is regarded as assertive in the United States may be considered inappropriate in their countries of origin. Every semester, University of Minnesota Counseling and Consulting Services offers an Assertive Communication Workshop to help students develop the knowledge and skills to communicate more assertively in accordance with American societal norms. This presentation summarizes the content and process of the workshop. Many students who choose to participate in the workshop are international students from Asian countries who may have difficulty communicating effectively with American students and professors, and who may experience confusion about what is considered appropriate or inappropriate. By reflecting on beliefs and emotions associated with assertiveness, discussing cultural and societal differences, and practicing assertive communication behaviors, students can achieve a better understanding of American communication norms, as well as increased comfort and confidence in their interpersonal interactions while in the United States.

Author Information
Jerome Shih, University of Minnesota, USA

Paper Information
Conference: ACP2015
Stream: Psychology and Education

This paper is part of the ACP2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon