Often distinguished from aggressiveness, assertiveness is standing up for yourself without being abusive or overbearing. Most of the values in our model are assertive, for the simple reason that ethics requires action. This week, we explore components of assertiveness.
Oprah Winfrey personifies assertiveness. Born into poverty and after becoming a teenaged single mother at age 14, she landed her first job as a local newscaster at age 19. She then became an actress and a spectacularly successful talk show host and cultural icon.
- Jennifer Harris and Elwood Watson, The Oprah Phenomenon (The University Press of Kentucky, 2007).
- Robin Westen, Oprah Winfrey: “I Don’t Believe in Failure” (Enslow Publishers, 2005).
- Katherine E. Krohn, Oprah Winfrey (Lerner Publications, 2002).
- Kitty Kelley, Oprah: A Biography (Crown Archetype, 2010).
Other narratives on assertiveness:
- K.N.O. Dharmadasa, Language, Religion, and Ethnic Assertiveness: The Growth of Sinhalese Nationalism in Sri Lanka (University of Michigan Press, 1993).
- Jehanne Wake, Sisters of Fortune: America’s Caton Sisters at Home and Abroad (Touchstone Book/Simon & Schuster, 2011): their lives may not exemplify social commitment but this multi-biography is a “comprehensive account of four strong-willed sisters’ adventures in ‘another world’ they confidently made their own.”
On the difference between healthy assertiveness and unhealthy aggressiveness:
- Gregg Jones, Honor in the Dust: Theodore Roosevelt, War in the Philippines, and the Rise and Fall of America’s Imperial Dream (New American Library, 2012): a book about “the soul of the United States . . . the story of what happened when a powerful young country and its zealous young president were forced to face the high cost of their ambitions.”
Technical and Analytical Readings
- Randy Paterson, The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself At Work and In Relationships (MUF Books, 2000).
- Robert E. Alberti and Michael Emmons, Your Perfect Right: Assertiveness and Equality in Your Life and Relationships (Impact Publishing, 2008).
- Robert Bolton, People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts (Touchstone, 1986).
- Sharon Anthony Bower and Gordon H. Bower, Asserting Yourself: A Practical Guide for Positive Change (Addison Wesley Publishing Company, 1976).
- Sherrie Mansfield Vavrichek, The Guide to Compassionate Assertiveness: How to Express Your Needs and Deal with Conflict While Keeping a Kind Heart (New Harbinger Publications, 2012).
- James V. Potter, Assertiveness, Individuation & Autonomy (AFS Publishing Co., 2007).
- James V. Potter, Assertiveness, Individuation & Autonomy: An Assertiveness Training Manual (AFS Publishing Co., 2011).
- Susan M. Heighway and Susan Kidd Webster, S.T.A.R.S.: A Social Skills Training Guide for Teaching Assertiveness, Relationship Skills, and Sexual Awareness (Future Horizons, 2007).
- Richard Pfeiffer, Relationships: Assertiveness Skills (Growth Publishing, 2010).
- Jenny Moon, Achieving Success Through Academic Assertiveness: Real life strategies for today’s higher education students (Routledge, 2010).
- Jeff Davidson, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Assertiveness (ALPHA, 1997).
- Max A. Eggert, Assertiveness Pocketbook (Management Pocketbooks, 2011).
- S. Mohebi, et. al., “The effect of assertiveness training on student’s academic anxiety”, J Pak Med Assoc., 2012 Mar;62(3 Suppl 2):S37-41.
- B.R. Kennedy and C.C. Jenkins, “Promoting African American women and sexual assertiveness in reducing HIV/AIDS: an analytical review of the research literature”, J. Cult. Divers., 2011 Winter 18(4):142-49.
- Mark Rothko, Four Darks in Red (1958)
- Mark Rothko, White, Red, on Yellow (1958)
- Mark Rothko, No. 9 (Dark Over Light Earth) (1954)
- Wassily Kandinsky, Asserting (1926)
- Diego Rivera, The Painter, the Sculptor and the Architect (1923-28)
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
The trumpet best expresses this value. Here are some composers of trumpet music, and some of their works:
- Albinoni: Trumpet Concerto in B-flat Major; Trumpet Concerto in D minor
- Arban: Carnival of Venice; Fantaisie brillante; trumpet duets
- Arutiunian: Trumpet Concerto
- Clarke: The Maid of the Mist; The Debutante (Caprice brilliant); various pieces
- Fasch: Trumpet Concerto in D major
- Franz Josef Haydn: Trumpet Concerto in E-flat Major
- Michael Haydn: Trumpet Concerto in D Major; Trumpet Concerto in C Major
- Hummel: Trumpet Concerto
- Molter: Trumpet Concertos
- Leopold Mozart: Trumpet Concerto in D Major
- Neruda: Trumpet Concerto in E-flat Major
- Plog: Trumpet Concerto
- Purcell: pieces for trumpet
- Richter: Trumpet Concerto in D Major
- Stamitz: Trumpet Concerto in D Major
- Telemann: trumpet concertos
- Torelli: trumpet concertos
- Vivaldi: Concerto for 2 Trumpets
Similarly, the brass quintet (two trumpets, French horn, trombone and tuba) has its own distinctive character. Albums include:
- Wien-Berlin Brass Quintett, “In the Music Hall”
- Wien-Berlin Brass Quintett, “Brilliant Brass”
- Empire Brass, “Fireworks”
- Empire Brass, “A Bach Festival”
- Empire Brass, “Mozart for Brass”
- Empire Brass, “The American Brass Band Journal”
- Boston Brass, “Blues for Sam”
- Boston Brass, “Simple Gifts”
- Atlantic Brass Quintet, “Ascent”
- Atlantic Brass Quintet, “Crossover”
- Atlantic Brass Quintet, “Fanfare and Passages”
- Atlantic Brass Quintet, “Picture This”
- Canadian Brass, “Canadiana”
- Canadian Brass, “Takes Flight”
Practically any jazz trumpeter could be selected to illustrate the value of assertiveness. Roy Hargrove struck a balance between the high-octane energy of Maynard Ferguson and others, and something less bold than a trumpet. His web biography aptly describes him as a “briskly assertive soloist with a tone that could evoke either burnished steel or a soft, golden glow . . .” His playing was easy on the ear and the soul. His albums include:
- “Diamond in the Rough” (1990)
- “Public Eye” (1991)
- “The Vibe” (1992)
- “Of Kindred Souls” The Roy Hargrove Quintet Live” (1993)
- “Family” (1995)
- “Parker’s Mood” (1995)
- “Habana” (1997)
- “Moment to Moment” (2000)
- “Nothing Serious” (2006)
- “Earfood” (2008)
- “Emergence” (2009)
Other compositions, not for trumpet:
- Pianist Vera Gornostaeva played Mussorgsky’s Pictures At an Exhibition with exceptional force and command, and brought a similar approach to Rachmaninoff’s Preludes. Of her performance of “Pictures,” Vassily Primakov writes: “ She does not just perceive this piece as a collection of pictures or little pieces, she sees it as a big, epic saga. Her sound is huge and orchestral, but never harsh. “Gnomes” is particularly interesting. She plays it differently, almost jazzlike, treating it more like a 20th-century work. Her choices of dynamics in that piece differ from every other performance I have heard. Technically she owned that piece from beginning to end.”
- Raga Shankara, a Hindustani raag for late evening (performances by Bhimsen Joshi, Gandharva and Gajanabuwa Joshi)
- Jacob, Flute Concerto (1952)
- Giannini, Piano Concerto (1935)
- Weinberg, Piano Quintet, Op. 18 (1944)
- Bacon, Piano Trio No. 2 (1987)
Albums of Rory Block, a woman who is completely at home in a traditionally man’s genre:
- “Blues Walkin’ Like a Man”
- “Gone Woman Blues”
- “Best Blues and Originals”
- “Prove It On Me”
- “Confessions of a Blues Singer”
- “I’m Every Woman”
- “The Lady and Mr. Johnson”
- Dave Holland Octet, “Pathways”: hard-driving but well-ordered contemporary jazz
- Billy Bang, "Da Bang"
- Josh Berman & His Gang, “There Now”
- James Kitchman, “First Quartet”: “This is a remarkably mature first album that features intelligent, multi-faceted compositions.”
Speak, your lips are free.
Speak, it is your own tongue.
Speak, it is your own body.
Speak, your life is still yours.
See how in the blacksmith's shop
The flame burns wild, the iron glows red;
The locks open their jaws,
And every chain begins to break.
Speak, this brief hour is long enough
Before the death of body and tongue:
Speak, 'cause the truth is not dead yet,
Speak, speak, whatever you must speak.
[Faiz Ahmed Faiz, “Speak”]
. . . being American is more than a pride we inherit.