Understanding the Influence of Assertive Communication | Ivna Curi

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How can assertiveness transform your leadership skills??

My guest, Ivna Curi, is a speaker, podcast host, contributor to Forbes, and an MBA graduate from INSEAD. Ivna is on a mission to help empower professionals and leaders to speak up assertively, overcome the fear of aggression, retaliation, or inaction that hinders career growth and productivity.

In this episode, Ivna elaborated on

  • Her definition of leadership
  • Misconceptions about assertiveness 
  • Passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive communication styles 
  • The importance of being present and calm 
  • Building connection and trust through communication
  • The Swedish concept of hygge 
  • The three Ds for being assertive

If you’re interested in how assertiveness can transform your leadership skills, this episode is a must-listen!


In this episode of the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast, I’m thrilled to introduce you to our guest,  Ivna Curi, a speaker, podcast host, contributor to Forbes, and an MBA graduate from INSEAD. Ivna is joining us from Pasadena, California. She brings with her a beautiful accent and a mission to empower professionals and leaders to speak up assertively. With her expertise in assertive communication, she has already benefited over 20,000 students.

Defining Leadership and Assertiveness
In our conversation, I asked Ivna about her definition of leadership. She explained that leadership involves guiding a group of people towards a shared goal or vision. It’s about creating value that is greater than the sum of individual contributions. Leadership, according to Ivna, can be demonstrated through assertiveness, encouragement, providing psychological safety, and setting a clear direction.

We also delved into the difference between being assertive and being aggressive. Ivna addressed common concerns people have about assertiveness such as the fear of being perceived as aggressive or facing backlash and retaliation. She debunked misconceptions about assertiveness being inauthentic or offensive. In her view, assertiveness involves speaking up, expressing oneself, and respecting others while respecting oneself. She highlighted the importance of effectiveness in communication and the role of emotional intelligence, listening, and adapting communication to ensure the intended message is received.

Building a Vibrant Culture through Effective Communication
Ivna and I discussed the importance of effective communication and assertiveness in building a vibrant culture. She emphasized the need to maximize the efficiency of transmitting ideas and ensuring they are received as intended. She acknowledged that communication can be challenging as it is influenced by the beliefs and values of the listener. However, she suggested various strategies to overcome these challenges, such as rephrasing, listening, asking questions, and adjusting as necessary.

I shared my approach to assertiveness, which involves setting expectations and practicing truth telling, honesty, and candor. I announced my intention to be assertive in meetings and seek permission from others to express my thoughts. This approach helps to create a respectful environment where disagreements can be addressed constructively.

Ivna agreed with my tactic and highlighted its effectiveness, especially when challenging ideas or having difficult conversations with superiors. By seeking permission and preparing the listener for what will be said, assertiveness can be communicated in a respectful manner.

Understanding Communication Styles
We also discussed the different communication styles, including passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive. We agreed that the passive-aggressive style is the least desirable as it involves manipulative tactics and a disconnect between behavior and words. We showed empathy towards passive-aggressive individuals who are trying to break free from their passive perception.

The Importance of Connection in Assertiveness
We discussed the significance of connection in assertiveness. Ivna referred to it as building connection and explained that it involves inviting others to the conversation, asking for their feedback and ideas, and making them feel heard and validated. Sharing about oneself and expressing care for the other person also contribute to building trust and connection.

I related this concept of connection to the idea of hospitality, particularly in southern culture. I emphasized the importance of holding space for others and creating a bond through sharing and honesty. I compared it to the bond between girlfriends who support and give honest feedback to each other.

Embracing Hygge and Removing Blind Spots in Communication
We also discussed the concept of “hygge” and its origins in Scandinavian culture. Hygge is a word that doesn’t exist outside of Scandinavia and was created to embrace the coziness and togetherness of the cold, dark winters. It represents hospitality, bonding with friends and family, and enjoying activities like drinking tea, hot cocoa, and playing games by the fireplace while wearing matching pajamas and cozy socks.

We talked about the importance of assertiveness and removing blind spots in communication. We emphasized the need to understand other people’s perspectives and share our own truth to create a sense of togetherness and unity. Even if we think we know everything, there are always blind spots and it’s crucial to listen and understand others.

Ivna’s Strategy for Becoming More Assertive
As we wrapped up our conversation, I asked Ivna to share a strategy or nugget of wisdom for becoming more assertive. She suggested the “Three Ds”: being definitive, direct, and decisive. Being definitive means speaking with confidence and authority, regardless of being right or wrong. Being direct involves saying what you mean in a clear and straightforward manner. And being decisive means making decisions without fear of making mistakes and taking responsibility for the outcomes.

I encourage you all to visit Ivna’s website, www.assertiveway.com, to learn more about her work and how you can benefit from her expertise. Remember, assertiveness is not about venting frustrations or complaining, but rather about listening and adapting one’s communication to be more effective. It’s about being present and calm in order to have productive conversations. So, let’s all strive to be more assertive and build a vibrant culture in our respective fields.

Mentioned in this episode:


Ivana Curi: Let me tell you now. Let me explain to your listeners specifically the elements of assertiveness that make it not be the same thing as aggressive. Because there are four communication types. There’s assertive, there’s aggressive, there’s passive-aggressive, and there’s passive. Assertiveness is completely different from all the others. In order to be assertive, we need to speak up. We need to express ourselves. We can’t stay quiet. That’s not how it could be in certain situations when most situations it’s about expressing ourselves and communicating, like you said, putting yourself out there, putting your ideas out there, putting your concerns out there, putting your feedback out there, putting you and what you represent and what you believe in out there. Your goals, dreams, rights, likes, dislikes, beliefs, boundaries, whatever that is.

Voiceover: This is the Build A Vibrant Culture Podcast, your source for the strategies, systems, and insights you need to turn your dreams into your destiny. Every week, we dive into dynamic conversations as our host, Nicole Greer, interviews leadership and business experts. They’re here to shed light on practical solutions to the challenges of personal and professional development. Now, here’s your host, a professional speaker, coach and consultant Nicole Greer.

Nicole Greer: Welcome everybody to the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. My name is Nicole Greer and they call me The Vibrant Coach. I have another fantastic episode ready to go for you. Today I have a good friend from all the way over in Pasadena, California. Have you been to Pasadena, California? It’s a place you should go. You can eat so good if you go to Pasadena. I’m just saying. And not only that, but my guest has this beautiful accent today, and her name is Ivna Curi, and she is originally from Brazil. Let me tell you all about her. Listen to her accent. You’ll fall in love. Even Ivna Curi  is on a mission. And I love a gal on a mission because she knows herself. Why? She is helping people empower professionals and leaders to speak up assertively, overcoming the fear of aggression, retaliation, or inaction that hinders career growth and productivity. You’re thinking, oh my gosh, I’m staying tuned. I know it’s going to be good. And, as a host of Speak Your Mind Unapologetically podcast, she’s also a contributor to Forbes and she is an MBA graduate. So serious smarts and she is a graduate from  INSEAD. Hold on, I’ll say her name right. “IVNA CURI” , expertise in assertive communication has benefited. Listen to this: “Over 20,000 students”, she has helped them maximize engagement and performance. I’m absolutely delighted to have you on the show Ivna. Thank you so much for being here.

Ivna Curi: Thank you Nicole, and I’ve been learning a few things from you in terms of how to bring the vibrancy to the podcast. Definitely taking those takeaways with me.

Nicole: Oh, okay. Good!. Well, it’s a mutual learning fest. Love fest already. All right. So, you know we’re collecting definitions of leadership around here. So, I’m curious, what’s your definition of leadership?

Ivna: Yeah, well, thanks for the question. Obviously someone who is able to guide a group of people or, you know, it can be animals or other other creatures as well.
But let’s talk about people for a moment towards a shared or common goal or vision, but with some additional elements to it. If they can bring this group of people together, the value or the benefit that this group of people provide jointly is greater than the sum of each individual’s kind of contribution. I think that’s an important part of leadership. So, think of it as where they’re able to get one plus one and create five instead of two. I think that’s a really important part, because then you’re really maximizing the value of that group towards that goal. So, I think that’s another important part to think about. And, obviously, there’s many ways of doing that. One of them is being assertive, but also encouraging and providing psychological safety, helping other people, setting a clear direction, etc. I mean, there’s so many different ways of doing that, of course.

Nicole: That’s fantastic. I agree with you. When you get more than one head together, surely we’re going to have a better idea than if only one person is doing it right. So, it’s multiplying what’s going on in the team. I love it. All right. You said right there that it’s important to be assertive. You know there’s that fine line between being assertive and being aggressive. Talk to me about what assertive looks like and what you mean by, you know, speaking up assertively or doing things the assertive way.

Ivna: Yeah. Sort of way. You know, some of the biggest questions that come up around the service are, “Oh, but I don’t, I don’t want to be aggressive.” If I’m assertive, I’m going to be aggressive or rude or I’m going to be perceived or come across as a difficult, abrasive individual. I don’t want that. Or another big consideration that comes up is in a fear that people have around being assertive is that if I’m assertive, there’s going to be backlash and retaliation. Something bad is going to happen to me because I’m going to be ruffling some feathers and people are not going to like it. Another concern people have, there’s so many concerns Nicole, you wouldn’t believe it, but another one is that it’s very inauthentic, right? Oh my gosh, I’m not an assertive person. I mean, just I’m just, it’s just not me. I don’t behave that way. So, why should I have to change and be assertive? You know, another misconception that happens is that if we are assertive, we’re going to offend people. We’re going to hurt people’s feelings. Another one is that why should I be assertive? Nothing’s going to change anyways, right? Most people don’t even respond to that very well. So, why would I even try? So, you’re spot on with your question, because a lot of people do think that assertiveness is being aggressive or blunt. And it’s not, it’s not, you know, assertiveness. I’ll give you the definition to your listeners.

Nicole:  We want one. Lay it on us.

Ivna: Let me ask you first, Nicole, how do you perceive assertiveness?

Nicole: What’s assertiveness?

Ivna: You know, someone who’s really assertive and what do they look like?

Nicole:  Well, I would say I’m really assertive. What assertive means is that, in my mind, I just put myself out there and usually what’s making me put myself out there, it’s like something I’m passionate about.   So, you know, I’m like excited to give you my ideas. So, I assert myself by opening my mouth and saying, here’s what I think, here’s an idea, here’s what I was thinking about, you know, so that’s what assertiveness looks in my mind. And, then, I also think there’s this idea of being courageous. I think there’s a lot of really great character traits that people don’t see now. I mean, we also know that the beginning of the word assertive is ass. And so we’re not saying that what we’re saying is, is moving into a space, moving into a conversation, moving into a dialogue. So, it’s just about movement to me. And usually I’m assertive because it’s like I care.

Ivna: Oh. Oh, Nicole. Wonderful, wonderful.

Nicole: I get an A! 

Ivna: You get A! I’ll just add a few things. But you’re right. Courage is a huge part of assertiveness. I often say this. You don’t need confidence to assert yourself. And courage will get you to do it.  We’ll get you to speak up and put yourself out there, like you say. And one of the best ways of getting that courage, like you said, is because you care about something more than you care about the fear that’s in the way of speaking your mind. And so when you have that equation, when you have the thing that you care about, that passion or whatever you want to bring out is greater than the fear, that’s when you’re able to speak up. So our goal is always to increase that passion, increase that conviction in what you want to speak up about. At the same time, let’s reduce the fear by education by showing how it’s done in the most effective possible way to avoid any negative consequences that usually happen because people don’t know how to assert themselves, and instead they’re aggressive instead of being assertive. I love what you talked about movement. It reminded me of this financial, well, finance class back in business school where they talked about money being energy, right, just flowing from one place to another. And it was such a different way of thinking about money. But now that you talk about it, you know, assertiveness is kind of like that. It’s kind of like energy in movement. And you bring your energy and share it with other people. I had never thought about it that way, but thank you for bringing that up, Nicole. I love that definition and putting that into how we think about assertiveness. Let me tell you. Now, let me explain to your listeners specifically the elements of assertiveness that make it not be the same thing as aggressive. Because there are four communication types. There’s assertive, there’s aggressive, there’s passive-aggressive, and there’s passive. Assertiveness is completely different from all the others. In order to be assertive, we need to speak up. We need to express ourselves. We can’t stay quiet. That’s not how it could be in certain situations when most situations it’s about expressing ourselves and communicating, like you said, putting yourself out there, putting your ideas out there, putting your concerns out there, putting your feedback out there, putting you and what you represent and what you believe in out there. Your goals, dreams, rights, likes, dislikes, beliefs, boundaries, whatever that is. Number two, part of assertiveness is that you need respect. Need to respect the person, or at least make them feel respected. When you speak to them, you’re you know, you’re telling them, hey, you’re not going to get this project. Do it respectfully. You’re saying, hey, this is my boundary. Let’s not cross it, cross it, do it respectfully. You’re saying, hey, I have constructive criticism to give you. Do it respectfully. You’re saying I’m going to have to let you go. There’s a way to do it respectfully. Right? And the respect part for ourselves is in speaking up. When we stay silent and we don’t talk when something’s bothering us or concerning us, or we have something to say that’s disrespecting ourselves, that’s disrespecting our own voice. So it allows us to respect others while respecting ourselves. So that’s the first thing, right? First part of speaking up assertively. The second part is effectiveness. So some people and this is where the misconception happens, right? A lot of people think that just by spitting out all of their frustrations, just saying whatever, that’s assertiveness. It’s not right. That’s venting off your frustrations. That’s speaking. It’s not assertiveness. Assertiveness is about being effective when we communicate. And in order to be effective, we need to influence. In order to influence, we need to be smarter about how we say things. It’s not only about what you say in your message, it’s about how it’s going to get received by the other person. And, so, it is like you said, you mentioned at some point emotional intelligence. Yes, we need emotional intelligence. Assertiveness is also about listening. It’s also about asking questions. It’s also about adapting our communication to make sure that the other side receives it in the way we intended it to be received, because there’s a lot of energy. Right? That we have a thought, we’re transmitting it through our voice.  It’s got to be captured by the other person, their brain. They’re interpreting it based on their beliefs and value system. Lots of things can go wrong, and we need to be really good at being able to maximize the efficiency in which we transmit the energy of what we’re trying to say to the other person. So that’s received exactly how we intended to. And if it doesn’t, we can still adjust. We can rephrase things, try different ways, listen to them, ask questions. There are many ways of doing that. So that’s number two. And then number three.

Nicole: Before you go on to number three, let me ask a few questions, because I don’t want to lose all the juiciness of these things as we go along. So the first thing you said was respect. And so the first thing that popped in my mind is, you know, to build a vibrant culture, which is what we’re trying to do. We want you to be assertive. And I think you need to be really assertive with building trust with people.
So one of the things that I talk about all the time is that, you know, you’ve got to kind of set expectations. I loved your word boundaries. You know, if you can tell people around here, you know, what do we do? We practice. And this is a little phrase I use. I’m curious, even though what you think about it. But I say we practice truth telling, honesty and candor. And so like oftentimes I will be in a group meeting and I will say, hold up. I’m announcing officially that I’m about to practice truth telling, honesty, and candor. And then I do this thing, and this is where respect comes in. I say, May I do that? And so people go, yes. Like you can almost see them go, go ahead. Because they may not like what I’m about to say, but it’s like I, you know, I respectfully disagree with what you just said, or I did hear your idea, but I have major questions.
So I want to ask these major questions once I know the answers I’m in. But it’s like, you know, kind of announcing that I’m about to be assertive by practicing truth telling, honesty and candor. What do you think about that?

Ivna: That’s phenomenal. And especially for those people who are starting out. And, when you have an image, when you have an image around you, people that you work with, for example, that you know, you’re quiet, you don’t question things, you’re passive. It’s harder because we’re trying to change how people perceive us. We’re trying to even change our own identity and just understand who we are. And, so, it’s easier for people to push back because in a way, they feel disrespected, because you change your behavior. If someone else who is always outspoken, you know, challenges an idea, then no one really finds it strange and they don’t feel like they’re being disrespected. But just because you, you never challenged anybody, now you’re challenging that person. Like, why are you challenging me? That’s disrespectful.
When it isn’t. So the perceived aspect is this one point. So what you do Nicole is fantastic. It’s actually very encouraging when we’re trying to disagree. Right. Or having that hard conversation is in a way asking for permission to do that, especially with a superior, especially with your boss, someone who has more power because you want them to feel respected. And once they give you that, go ahead. Yeah. Yes. Let me. I’m listening to you. Then you automatically have their ears where before they might actually be blocking off. Be a little bit confrontational. Be a little bit shocked by what you’re saying. And that way you’re kind of phasing. You’re preparing them. You’re preparing them for what you’re going to say. You’re giving them the steps. And so it’s really great, great, great tactic and definitely something that the listeners should try.

Nicole: Okay. Awesome. And then I love what you said about effectiveness. So step one is respect. You know, and I think you know, what you do is another little thing.
Just I’ll just throw this in here real quick because if you become known as assertive and not name those other four things, that was the other thing I was going to tell you. You ripped them off so fast. But tell me the four things. The passive aggressive. Yes, those for the listeners and get in case they were like, wait, I missed it.

Ivna: Well okay, here we go. So the first one is passive. Passive. Is the nice person agreeable? Says yes to everyone, wants to please everyone, focuses really hard on being liked and just, you know, the nice person that everyone can count on all the time. Then you have the aggressive person. They’re controlling, you know, they want to dominate. They’re insecure as well, but they express that insecurity in a different way. They want control over everyone and they might be blunt, right. For example, then you have the passive aggressive type. The passive aggressive type. Right, as you see from the name is a mix of passive and aggressive.
So they behave primarily like it.

Nicole: Could be the worst one. I’m just saying it is the worst.

Ivna: It is the worst. Nobody likes a passive aggressive leader. It’s the worst type. Right. But here’s the thing. They’re not bad people. Generally, they’re not intending to be manipulative. But what happens is they’re passive in their thinking and approach. They avoid conflict. They scared of confrontation. They don’t want to, you know, they don’t want all of that. They feel very uncomfortable with the possibility of conflict, but they want to get their way. They want to get what they want. They don’t want to just sit back and let things roll against their will. So that’s when they use vague, manipulative tactics where they don’t have to own anything, and they can easily. If someone says, hey, why are you doing this? Like, hey, why are you, you know, are you trying to like, get this change this decision? Or are you actually disagreeing with me? Like, no, I didn’t say that. No, I didn’t, that’s not at all not me. But in the back, they’re, you know, they’re talking to other people and complaining about you. You know, they’re making, they’re giving that weird look of disapproval, but they’re not saying a single word. It was very easy to distrust that kind of person because there’s such a disconnect between how they behave, what they say, and their body language and the things that they do in the background, which are vague, seriously icky.

Nicole: That’s what I call that.

Ivna: It’s icky. It’s sticky. But, let’s also have a little bit of empathy for that type, because they’re breaking free from their perception of being passive. Right. So the passive person is all giving, but they resent, they’re frustrated.

Nicole: Upset, and they become the martyr. That’s what I wrote down later on. They’re like, nobody listens to me. Nobody ever hears. My voice is like, well, you didn’t say anything in the meeting. And so, of course, we didn’t hear your voice. Yeah.

Ivna: They make themselves the victim.

Nicole: That’s right.

Ivna: Right. And so the passive-aggressiveness is one step further. They’re trying to regain some control, but they have no clue how to do it. And then you the aggressive, which is just trying to dominate. But, at least you know where they stand. And they’re predictable. And then you have a sort of assertiveness. I call them intentional communicators. They’re very good. They’re effective. Right. We were talking about how they’re respectful of others and of themselves. They’re not sugarcoating any message, but they’re thoughtful. They’re caring about others. They’re looking for ways to connect. You might have a hard conversation, and the other person might still leave feeling happy and fulfilled from that conversation. That’s what a lot of people are able to do.

Nicole: That’s right, that’s right. I totally agree. And something you said I wrote down about the assertive type is they’re also listening, asking really good questions. And then your opposite thing, as you said, they’re not venting, which I think is really huge.
You know, at work we shouldn’t vent. You know, not not even with the person you think you can trust, right? Like maybe go home to your husband or your wife, your partner, or whatever. Your deal is the dog on the walk. That’s probably the best person to vent to. Did that. Yeah. Yeah, I’ve done that. But, you know, it’s like, you know, we can maintain that level of emotional intelligence. And, one thing, don’t you know, even I tell people all the time, too. So, you know, unless you’re working for the Cancer Institute, you know, like, we’re not trying to cure cancer and do, like, things that should get you so upset. You know, it’s like we’re trying to sell video cameras or we’re trying to sell, you know, soda or we’re trying to sell, I don’t know, whatever it is, it’s like it’s, you know, can’t we just speak our truth about whatever it is we’re doing? It’s not like there’s this huge thing on the line, you know what I mean? Like, business is huge, but it shouldn’t be so upsetting.
And I think what upsets people is their ego. And when you spit out things at people and, just listen to that spit, if I spit in her face, she would turn off the zoom and never talk to me again. Okay? Even though the spit would not hit her through the camera. But if I spit at her, if I spit at her, I vented at her. Of course her ego’s going to get, you know, activated, and then she’s on the defensive. And so I just really love your two first things. Respect and effectiveness.

Voiceover: Are you ready to infuse vibrancy into your organization’s culture? Look no further than Nicole Greer. Bring her to speak to your leadership team, conference, or organization, and watch as your strategies, systems, and smarts ignite clarity, accountability, energy, and results. Your organization will come alive from within. Email her at nicole@vibrantculture.com. And be sure to check out Nicole’s TEDx talk at vibrantculture.com.

Nicole: All right. Thank you for playing around with me right there okay. Number three. Hit number three hard for number three.

Ivna: Number three is great for those Zen people out there. It’s calm. I love it. Calm calm. And why do we need calm? Calm is necessary for us to be able to think on our feet. Calm is important for us to be present in the moment, in the conversation we’re having with the other individual.  Because as I said, because as you were just mentioning, it’s not about venting off of frustrations. It’s not about complaining. It’s not a one way street. Assertiveness is a two way street, and therefore we need to be able to listen, capture the other person in their verbal and non-verbal response, and adapt our language in our communication accordingly so that we can be effective. In order to do that, we need to be present in the moment. We can’t be, you know, thinking about all sorts of things or complaining or wondering. We have to be present. We need to be calm. We can’t be frustrated. We need to be calm and present. So that is.

Nicole: And I would add that slowing down is part of that. Like, just slowing down right.

Ivna:  Slowing down. And another thing is that when we’re not calm, it triggers other people immediately. When we are calm like I’m doing now, just by slowing down, like you said, Nicole, it gets people to focus more and it brings more rationality and less emotiveness into the conversation. And if you want to get your message across, if you’re looking to influence. That is very helpful.

Nicole: Mhm. Yeah. And, and the word I always equate with calm is peace. You know, like I’m bringing this up because I don’t have peace. You know, like whatever I’m going to be assertive about, my idea, my opinion, something I think is fair, unfair needs to be brought to light. Whatever it is. It’s like, currently I don’t have peace. And so I’m going to bring it forward. I’m going to do it in a calm way. Because here’s the other thing I think about your subject, which is so great. Assertiveness the assertive way. Assertive way. By the way everybody, um, is that, I mean, the minute I speak my truth and then I’ve done it in a respectful, respectful, effective, calm way, it’s almost like you get peace. You’re like. I spoke my truth. I’m a woman of integrity. And, I did it in a beautiful way. Man. Is that peaceful?

Ivna: It is peaceful and it brings an immense sense of relief. When you carry something  and it’s a problem and there’s something that you do that is an interaction with someone else that’s just not right, that there’s a gap. There’s a silo. Interpersonal silo.

Nicole: Oh. Interpersonal silo. Stop. I’m writing it down. Write it down. Yeah. You can be stuck on some island where you don’t agree where the team is going. So what are you talking about?

Ivna: Yes. Right. All it’s going to do is it’s just going to grow over time because these issues don’t disappear. And that builds frustration. That builds the opposite of peace, builds a prison. And, so, we need to be able to become, like you said, bring our speak the truth and do so in a way that feels right, that we’re proud of. At the end. We spoke our truth. We’re proud of that and we’re proud of how we did it.

Nicole: And you know here’s the thing.  This is probably the case right. Is that, like, if I say it, there’s three other people on the team that are like, she said it. Oh my God, I’m so glad you said it.

Ivna: Yes. Yes. Especially when I’ve seen that all the time. You challenge releasing your people in the room. Everybody has the same question, but no one dares to say it until someone says it. We’re the courageous ones. But then guess what? Often they actually are. If they do it in the right way, then they are rewarded for it as well.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. And, if it’s so sensitive, you know, you take whoever is responsible for whatever this issue is and you go to them one on one. It doesn’t have to be in the group, you know, like, you know I care. You know, I care about you. So, I just want to share this and that. And here’s the thing. You know, the word I used was peace. You use calm, but like calm, peace, respect.. Dare I say this? Underneath all that is L-O-V-E. You know, if I respect you, I love you. You know, if I don’t care about you, then I’ll disrespect you.  And then if I want calm, I want peace for everybody. It’s just as a whole out play of love in my mind. Oh, I love number three. I’m all about it. All right, Ivna, number four, number four. Bring it.

Ivna: So I’m going to bring something which is slightly different. Thing is, is how you actually achieve that. So that’s the definition of assertiveness right. It’s speaking up, expressing yourself, speaking your truth, whatever that is in a way that’s respectful towards others, perceived or perceived as respectful, calm or peaceful and effective which means influence. Now, how do you do that?

Nicole: Yes, you’re talking to it.

Ivna: You’re talking about love, right? Have a different word for it.

Nicole: Okay.

Ivna: I call it connection.

Nicole: Oh, I like it.

Ivna: And there are so many ways to build connections without losing the strength of your message, the effectiveness of what you have to say. And, that’s where a lot of people get confused, especially if there are people pleasers in passive types or passive aggressive types. Certain things like, oh, you know, it’s not a big deal or it’s not, it’s not a huge thing or, you know, I’m not so sure about this, but here’s a half baked idea. They just minimize everything that they say. And that is not connection, that does the opposite of connection. So, it’s important to understand what connection is. Connection is inviting people to the conversation. Ask for their feedback. Ask for their ideas. Ask for their advice. Ask them how they’re feeling. It’s about really inviting them to the conversation. Then, second, once they are in the conversation with you, making sure that you make them feel heard, acknowledged, validated, and all that good stuff. Then, also, on the side, express yourself in a service called self disclosure, which is sharing about yourself, sharing your thoughts, your feelings, your needs, your wants, your desires, your weaknesses, your dog situation, your personality.  You know, talking about yourself also builds trust and builds connection. So, you’re inviting people to share. You’re really there with them when they’re sharing so they feel heard, acknowledged, and understood. And then you’re sharing yourself. And then the last element is really expressing that you care about that person. You talked about caring and love right? As expressing appreciation for the other person, expressing giving them genuine compliments and things like that. So, that connection part is very important. So, that’s how you add. That element of no like and trust bond that eliminates any of those issues that you could have with being perceived as aggressive, rude. Obviously, you have to make sure that you eliminate what I call toxic, aggressive behavior. Um, and then add something else I’m going to share in a second.

Nicole: Yeah, I love that. So connection. I couldn’t agree more. And, you know, before we turned on the recording button for this podcast, I was asking her where she was, where her beautiful accent came from, and then she asked me where I was from, and I said, oh, I would call myself southern. That’s how I identify. And I’ve lived all over the United States on the East Coast. I asked her if she was from France because when she said this word, I was like, oh my God, she’s French. But anyway. And, I have this small obsession with France right now anyway. So, you know, this thing of the south is that there’s this thing we in the south we’re very proud of, and it’s this thing called hospitality. Now, hospitality is all over the world, but here in the south, we pride ourselves on being very hospitable. And, I think this connection thing is that same thing is, is, is holding the space, you know, like, if I had I’m going to even if you come to North Carolina, you have to come over for dinner. I have a guest room. Come stay. So there you go. So, you know, I’m all about having people at the house, feeding them, putting them in clean sheets, giving them a nice clean towel to take a shower or whatever they need to do while they’re here.  You know, that’s the same thing at work. Come in. Come in here. Want to talk to you? Let’s sit down at my table. You know, sit down at my desk, you know, so this thing of connection. And you said the phrase inviting them. I’m just inviting you into a conversation. I’m not trying to have a fuss or a fight. No, I’m trying to be hospitable here. And then you said sharing about yourself. I think that’s huge. And, then the other word I loved was, you said, make a bond. You know, you know, you know how you okay, ladies that are listening. You know how we all go to the bathroom together? Is that still a thing? Okay, so the girlfriends go to the bathroom together, and when they’re in the bathroom, they’re like, how does my hair look? Is my shirt tucked up? Is it good? Am I good? Do I have stuff in my teeth? You know, you can tell people the truth. You can be assertive if there’s a bond, you know, like you should not wear that dress. That is a terrible color on you. It’s not I don’t tell you that because I’m going to be mean because I think you should wear purple. You look better and purple or look at even if you’re looking at the video. She looks lovely. This is kind of like a burnt orange. That’s her color, right? I don’t know, I’ll shush, but think about the connection. Oh, my gosh, I love it. So, everybody, don’t miss it. It’s respectful, effectiveness, and calm. And then you have to have a bond or a connection with people. I love this.

Ivna: Yeah. In the hospitality world. Spot on. I never thought about using that word. I work for an airline, so there’s a lot of hospitality in the airline industry as well. Very important. And it’s just this warmth I like to call. I’ll tell you what, the word that I like to call, I like to call it speaking up hygge.

Nicole: Like the Swedish thing?

Ivna:  The Swedish thing. Because hygge, as you probably know, is a word that doesn’t exist anywhere else other than in Scandinavia. It was originated because of all of these cold, dark, long, depressing winters where everybody else would probably just get into suicide mode. But no, for them, they created a word that now they love this cold, dark part of the year because they associate it with coziness and togetherness. And that is hospitality because that’s coziness and to be with their friends, with family, with coworkers, where they bond, where they get that cup of tea, hot cocoa, hot soup, fireplace socks, everybody with their matching pajamas and play games all night. Hygge of assertiveness is the connection, is knowing how to add that hygge factor, to really bring in that warmth and sense of togetherness. Together we can do more. Together we can overcome challenges. Together we can unite and make things better for everyone.

Nicole: I agree. I like socks and matching pajamas. So, I’m right there. Yeah. Love all that. Okay, so, you know, the thing that also popped in my brain is, you know, because here’s the thing. Everybody has blind spots. Like we can’t see everything. You know, you’re driving in your car, you know, and you can’t see everything in the side mirror, in the back mirror and straight ahead of you. There’s blocks. And we’ve got to be assertive with each other so that we remove these blind spots. Meaning that. That’s what just landed for me.

Ivna: That is very true. You know, the blind spots are always there. We never know everything there. Especially since we can’t know. We can only know what we want. And, our desires are a little microcosm, but we’re always interfacing with other people, with the team, with other members, with clients. We need to be able to understand their own, their version of the world, their perspective and an interface and let them know what our version of the world is and help them unlock their version so that we understand their version, so that together we can create our version.  And, so, even if we are not at all, we still don’t understand other people’s perspectives. So, that’s why it’s so important. And, they don’t understand ours until we speak our truth. Like you’ve been talking about, Nicole.

Nicole: That’s so fantastic. All right everybody, you have had major downloads. If you’re not happy with this podcast, what do you want from us? I mean, we just don’t understand. All right, so here’s what I want you to do. Even though I want you to think my listeners are like, no, no, no, don’t tell me it’s the top of the hour. And it is everybody. So, I want to know, what’s the one nugget you would like to leave everybody with, like a strategy. Something that’s just really smart. Like if you were to say, here’s how you start, just what would you get people going to kind of be more assertive?

Ivna: There’s so many things I could share. Okay.

Nicole: But you can go to her website, assertiveway.com, and you can reach out to her. She’s also available on LinkedIn. Just go to LinkedIn and then it’s Ivna-Curi_MBA

Ivna: Yes. And, check out a couple of things. I have a challenge called the sort of “Unlikable Challenge” where you find out exactly “The 10 steps to be both sort of likable when you speak your truth.”

Nicole: Oh, fantastic.

Ivna: It’ll explain something called the Desert Script, which is the most famous script for speaking up in a sort of communication. It’ll talk about the importance of conviction when you speak your truth as well, and assumptions, things like that. So, I highly recommend that as a next step.

Nicole: And where do we find that? Tell us again.

Ivna: At assertiveway.com.

Nicole: Fantastic okay. That’s where you go to get all the goodies. Don’t miss the goodies. Don’t listen to this whole thing and not go get the goodies. What’s the nugget you would leave us with. And then we’re all racing over there to download.

Ivna: All right. So, here’s the thing. A lot of us who enjoy being liked find it really hard to speak our truth. I encourage that kind of person, who I am by the way, to do three things. I call it the three “Ds” to be and speak in a definitive way. This is feedback that I got from many of my most senior leaders. I don’t even care if you’re right or wrong, just please speak to me in a definitive way with that. Like, you know, what you’re talking about because then I’ll listen. Because if you don’t speak in a definitive way, I will not even listen.

Nicole: Right?

Ivna: The second thing is direct. We talked about that today. It’s important to be direct. Not blunt, but say what you mean. You find the exact words, but say what you mean. And third, decisiveness, which is very key for us because, when we’re not decisive, we’re procrastinating decision making because we’re scared of making a mistake. And, we don’t want to own that responsibility because we don’t want people to not like us, or we don’t want to create conflict because we made the wrong decision. No, go and be decisive. Own it. That will actually encourage you and teach you to be more assertive, because you’re going to have to own what happens. It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake. What’s important is for you to own it at the end and deal with it and resolve it afterwards. So, decisive, direct and definitive.

Nicole: 3Ds people, you’re welcome. We’ve got that in there. That’s fantastic. So, when you go to be decisive, know what you’re talking about. Say it in a plain, straightforward way. It’s not spitting it out. It’s not yelling. It’s none of these crazy things and it’s being decisive. So, here’s what I think we ought to do and, dare I say, this evening. But like, I mean, you sit in some meetings and it’s like the stuff goes around and around and around and around. It’s like, somebody chooses a path, somebody chooses something!

Ivna: Don’t not move forward. Just just momentum. Progress people.

Nicole: Yeah. It’s like, it’s like this, you know, and say, I might be wrong, but I don’t care. I think we should give it a whirl. Give it a, you know, give it a try as long as it’s not going to break the bank. And, again, we know what we’re talking about. We’re being direct and we’re just going to decide. And, nobody’s going to get in trouble if we fail forward. You know that’s right. So, it’s all good. It’s all good. Oh, I have so enjoyed having you on the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. Two wonderful ladies. Dare I say that about myself? Go down to the bottom of the screen, people, wherever you’re at, on the phone, on the computer or wherever you’re at and give us a like. And, then, would you leave a nice little comment like, Ivna was amazing, write that down and, then, put that on there. And, if you’d like to get a hold of her, tell her. Tell everybody one more time how they can find you.

Ivna:  Yes, you can find me either on LinkedIn at Ivna Curi or on my website, assertiveway.com.

Nicole: Okay. I’m going to spell it for you. I-V-N-A and the last name, Curry. I have had a beautiful time speaking with you. Thank you so much for being on the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast.

Ivna: Thank you Nicole, I really enjoyed this time with you.

Voiceover: Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Build A Vibrant Culture Podcast. If you’ve found value in today’s episode, please take a moment to leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. Your feedback helps us improve and reach more like-minded listeners. Remember, the journey to building a vibrant culture never stops. Stay inspired, keep nurturing your vibrant culture, and we can’t wait to reconnect with you on the next exciting episode of Build A Vibrant Culture Podcast.

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