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Assertiveness at work

Empowerment Coaching Krakow Blog-Assertiveness coaching

Shelle Rose Charvet in her book Words That Change Minds describes the Cats and Dogs model at work. How does this relate to the art of being assertive, especially at work? Before we go to the answer to this question, I want to invite you to read a short story about the assertiveness of a certain ... hare!


A lion and an assertive hare

"One day, the king of beasts, the lion, decided that he was too old to hunt and chase game in the woods. Therefore, he issued a decree in which he announced that from Monday each day, deer, roe deer, wild boar, etc ... until the end of the month would report being eaten.

The decree was hung by a badger from the trees at the most important points in the forest, and there was panic among the animals. They ran confused, asking each other what to do. Eventually, they decided to intervene. The roe deer went to the lion first.

-I saw myself on the to-eat list - she began shyly, and the lion looked at the list.

-Yes - he replied. On Monday, and what is it?

-Well, but ... how is it so ... to eat? - she stammered, scared.

-And children?

-Kids? - the lion searched the list. - They are scheduled for Wednesday.

-Well ... how is it? - she couldn't say a word.

-Listen roe deer - lion started principally - if I hunt for you, do you have any chances? You do not have. And I will have to chase you in this forest like a stupid. You will run a lot, you sweat, the meat is hard afterward, it hurts me, I have heartburn. It does not make sense. You see for yourself. Come on, keep your head up. Until Monday roe deer, hello!

Roe deer lowered her head and walked away.

A wild boar showed up.

-You lion - he began aggressively from the very entrance. What are you fooling around with this list?

-And what do you mean again?

-I, your buddy, to eat?

-Yes, let me check - the lion leaned over the list - for Saturday.

-Come on? We went to parties together, ran after girls ...

The lion interrupted him: Listen wild boar, I'm already at this age, that maybe I still remember running after the girls, but I certainly don't remember for what purpose. Understand!? That is not an argument. Until Saturday!

And the wild boar went away.

The situation repeated itself. Various animals came, recalled their merits, invoked connections and affinities, asked, frightened, and tried to bribe.

Finally, the hare came.

-Hello lion! - he began simply.


-In the woods, they say you put me on your to-eat list.

The lion looked at the list. - Yes, for Sunday.

-Listen, can you cross me out?

Of course, no problem- said the lion, and made the appropriate corrections."

Chinese fairytale


Shelle Rose Charvet and the "dogs" and "cats" model at work

Shelle Rose Charvet in her book "Words That Change Minds" describes, inter alia, the "Dogs and Cats" model at work.

Let's start with "Cats". They are people focused on maintaining good relations with other people. This is what they care most about. This is of paramount importance for them. As a rule, these people are easily accessible. Their tone of voice fluctuates depending on the situation. Body language is quite lively in most cases.

Dogs are goal-oriented, results-oriented, problem-solving people. For them, efficiency and the fact that you can rely on someone are of paramount importance. They are perceived as dry, sometimes even sharp. The tone of their voice usually does not change. Body language is rather frugal.

Let's agree that the hero of the next short story will be the boss "Dog".

Let's see what happens when such a boss wants to get a solution to a problem as soon as possible and a team member is "The Cat".

"Cat" focuses on relations with the boss. He believes that the nicer he is to the boss, the more diplomatic, and the easier he will win his favor.

And here's a surprise. Not true!

In a situation where we have an obvious "Dog" as the boss, let's not try to be nice at all costs. Let us be as specific as possible and present our opinion.

Such a boss wants a quick solution to a problem - not a nice atmosphere. If we answer softly, he will consider us weak. We will not be an equal or worthy of interest partner for him.

A boss with such characteristics also likes to check how "strong" we are. Such a test of strength raises his adrenaline. He loves this game. Therefore, sometimes you have to endure this test of strength.

Oftentimes, after our first firm response, the boss may react just as strongly. This is a really good sign. Let us not withdraw and stay at his level. The situation in which the boss of "Dog" completely ignores our opinion will be a bad signal.


What can these stories of assertiveness teach us?

I wouldn't be myself if I didn't ask a few questions at the end 😊 Because, of course, the task of the above two stories is an invitation to reflection.

How openly do you express your opinion? Can you do it maturely?

How well do you care for your needs? How often do you solicit them "around" instead of saying them outright? How often do you "fawn"? How often do you "trade"?

How often do you complicate your life by not saying what you think, what you feel, what you need?

If your company has "diversity & inclusion" on the banners, why can't you be authentic yourself?

How divided are you into "work-self" and "home-self"?

And by the way: in both stories, there is a hint on how best to approach the next "pastoral visit" of the great bosses from your company's headquarters or very important clients. They hold dozens, if not hundreds, of such meetings each year. And they listen to a similar amount of presentations.

Who do you think they will remember from such meetings?

Coaching can be very helpful in becoming aware of your own preferences, then the preferences of people important to us, and thus understanding the sources of differences and conflicts that we face. A conversation with a coach is like looking into a mirror, a well-lit mirror that allows us to see in ourselves and around us what we do not see every day by looking only forward.

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