Dr. Chris Bell – Straight Talk

Middle School Monthly Meeting

December 9, 2013

Straight Talk

Dr Chris BellDr. Chris Bell – Professor of Communications at UCCS

Write a number from 1-5 to the following statements with 1 if you really agree and 5 if you really disagree

  1. I feel like I’m really even tempered and my moods don’t change much
  2. I feel really comfortable around other people and I’m outgoing
  3. I like meeting new people and feel like they are going to accept me
  4. I am confident and like trying new things
  5. I keep after a task and I don’t get frustrated
  6. I feel both physically and mentally healthy
  7. I feel like I’m independent and can take care of myself particularly in  social situation
  8. I feel like I take responsibility for my actions
  9. I feel good about taking credit for my own accomplishments

Total score (highest score 45 and lowest 9) and hang on and we will come back to it in the end keep it a secret

One rule – I won’t lie to you and you won’t lie to me

CMS 2I’m going to say things to you that many people won’t say to you – when I was in middle school I had a rough time and found that the easiest way to get through it was being a cool guy – if I can’t do it I was ‘above it’ so we are going to talk real

Truth – you are at a weird age and most adult have forgotten what that is like – it’s real to you – ‘don’t worry you will get through it’ – adults patronize you a lot – here is a true secret – middle school is the roughest time you will be going through – everyone wants you to feel bad about yourself or at least that what it feels like

Here is the deal and the truth – the way you feel about yourself in middle school dictates how you can be for the rest of your life. I made a choice to like me and that is a choice – and I don’t really care if you don’t like me because I like me enough for both of us

How do we get to the point that we like ourselves enough that we don’t care if others don’t like us – you advocate for yourself

3 ways of being in the world – passive, aggressive, assertive

We want to assert/advocate for ourselves without being too passive or aggressive

Carmel Middle School StudentsPassive looks like – calm, fear, shy, silent, too cool, look at the floor, no eye contact, apologize for everything – I’m sorry but……, make excuses for other people – they didn’t really mean to be that mean to me

Aggressive looks like – loud, commanding, strong, demanding, angry, fighting, accuse others – someone else’s fault, lie, roll eyes, bully, get way through intimidation,

Assertive lives somewhere in the middle – polite and respectful, confident because I’m not asking for anything unreasonable, fearless about what other people think, look at you, don’t have anything to be afraid of, we speak clearly and confidently and don’t have to draw a lot of attention to ourselves, you can look someone in the eye and say I don’t like the way you are treating me – communicate respectfully – don’t have to be passive or aggressive

In middle school – you may be forced into passive or aggressive but there is a 3rd way and that is adult way or assertive where you advocate for yourself – you can advocate for yourself and still have people like you

We are all passive, aggressive, and assertive –

  • When is it useful to be passive?
  • When is it useful to be aggressive?
  • When can aggressive get you into trouble?
  • When can passive get you into trouble?
  • Most of the time it’s best to be assertive?
  • The little voice inside never lies to you – listen to the quiet voice because it tells the truth

Anything you do when you are angry you will regret. You make bad choices when you are mad because you veer toward aggressiveness

Game – what does it look like to be aggressive, passive, and assertive?

  • Someone offers you pizza
  • You have a lot of homework but mom says you need to do dishes now
  • You got a bad grade on something you worked hard on
  • Friend wants you to come over and another friend wants you to come over – both are your friends (tell the truth is key)
  • There are really bullies in middle school people who pick you other people – telling everyone until something gets done, realizing you are not the problem but the person doing the beating is the problem

Look at your score – 9-45

The closer you are to 9 the more easily you will find it to be assertive.  The higher the score, you tend to be a passive person. People in the middle have a choice


  • Be as specific as possible – you have a need and you communicate it specifically
  • Stand up for yourself – confidence, eye contact,
  • Advocate respectfully especially parents and teachers – make an appointment is a good strategy and shows respect and maturity
  • Make requests not commands (i.e. ask questions not demands)
  • Realize that sometimes adults don’t listen so keep advocate for yourself until you get what you need
  • Be polity and respectful but be persistent



  • You are a person with the same importance as adults
  • Recognize the needs and goals of other are also important
  • Most of the time people are not doing things to make you mad but because they are trying to get their own needs met – give them a break
  • Be aware of social skills – body language, social skills,
  • Know when and how to ask for help

Homework – figure out something you need and be assertive/advocate for it

  • Eye contact
  • Ask for it in a question
  • Actually get it by being persistent or continuing negotiation
  • Feel good about having done it
  • Lower your score