When I worked at Mt Wilga Rehabilitation Centre in the early 1980s, I
often dealt with people who had lost confidence (or never had it). I ran
social skills training groups for them, with some success.
These training programs were targeted at the
problems faced by my non-confident people in their daily lives. Each
session I would ask them to tell me about life situations. We would
rehearse it, video it, and play it back. I used the methods I had learned
from Patricia Jakubowski who came to Australia in about 1982 and ran
workshops on assertiveness training.
I was particularly interested in the difficulties of one young man, a haemophiliac
who was also a thug - a most unfortunate combination. He came to me and
asked me to teach him how to stop fighting. So each week we would hear
about his interactions at the pub, and we would play the parts of
aggressor and aggressee, trying to capture the truth of the moment in our
We soon realised that aggression is a dance, in which each person must
play their part, or the dance cannot be consummated with a fist.
With that knowledge, I took several young men who were being constantly
abused and beaten up, and taught them how to change the outcome - without
force, without any "killing remarks".
"You want to fight?" says the thug.
"No thanks, but try one of those guys over there" says the
formerly beaten-upon. With a simple gesture of the forefinger, he
intercepts the gaze of the thug, and turns his head with his finger
following, taking the thug's gaze to the other side of the room. With the
staring competition broken, and the simple young man's attention now
returned to his beer, the thug must re-initiate the entire contact.
Which he doesn't know how to do, because thugs are socially inept!
A Pocketful of Confidence talks about the dance, not so much about the
violent dances I had been resolving, but more about the pleasant dances
that I also dealt with. I had help from co-author John Winston Bush,
a New York psychologist.
Download A Pocketful
of Confidence - 63KB PDF