Can You Gain Personal Skills or Confidence With an Online Course?

By Gemma Creagh - Last update


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Personal skills, confidence training courses?  How much of a “better person” can you make of yourself with an online course?  Or is the experience of a class enough of a confidence builder in itself?

Mark Godfrey Reports:

Modern society heaps people with stress and pressure.  Time is greedily taken by work and the journey to work. People rush about and spend their spare time wondering why they’ve got less and less spare time.  Pressurised office targets wear you down.

And so its no big surprise that courses promising us self-improvement, more confidence and better self-esteem are in such demand.  It is, however, worth looking at the value of these classes.

A typical online course outline for a confidence/assertiveness building courses will be peppered with semi-psychological speak.  This writer got a peek at a line up offered by the counselling and career development department of a Dublin university.  The online course, devised by trained psychologists, is run weekly over 12 weeks and is open to students and staff..  Demand for places is stratospheric, but this reporter got to sit in on two separate workshops as given by trained counsellors.  After introductions between participants, each person present had to present a short “biography” of themselves and then we got the outline of the course.  Readers note – as the counsellors presenting the course are recruited from private agencies, this type of course is typical of what you can expect wherever you choose to take a class in confidence building or assertiveness training.

What You Will Learn

The programme is divided into “Differentiation between passive, aggressive, assertive communication”, “Self esteem as it relates to communication”, “Non-verbal communication, personal boundaries” and “Conversation skills”.  The latter is divided into Active listening, Open vs closed questions, free information and self-disclosure, initiating, ending and joining in conversations.” Finally, there’s a class in responding to requests, “saying no”, setting limits for oneself.”

Good counsellors will put a premium on making you feel relaxed and at ease during their course.  Participants at assertiveness courses are primed to learn in a safe, comfortable, sharing environment where participants gently learn and incorporate their new skills. These new skills will then, hopefully, allow them to deal more confidently with others. With basic assertive skills as the foundation, workshops allow for individually paced learning, practice and feedback.

The overall aim of confidence building and assertiveness courses is to increase understanding of oneself and others through a series of well-tested exercises and activities.  As well as assertiveness techniques, you’ll be constantly pushed to analyse what you learn as you learn.  By the end of the course, you will feel more at one with and in charge of yourself.

Other Options

Another self–confidence course examined by this writer is offered by a private agency in Dublin.  The company offers two-day courses to adults.  Aimed particularly at office professionals the course costs two hundred pounds and covers a range of issues, such as asserting yourself, dealing with authority figures, improving self-esteem and identifying ‘crumple buttons.’  When I inquired about the latter term, I was told this was a creation of previous course members to describe the things that make each individual explode or get extremely annoyed.  This course, the friendly administrator told me, was all about “developing feelings of confidence which enable you to progress personally, at work and in dealing with others.”

Confidence/assertiveness building courses and personal skills development programmes are available in no short numbers right around Ireland.  They’re also very popular.  If you’re thinking about signing up for such a course, prepare yourself.  You’ve got to know what you want to get from the course and follow your goals.  This way you’ll come out of the programme as an improved and strengthened person.  Otherwise, you’ll be going to a whole lot of effort for more unanswered questions and a pile of frustration!  An alternative to a confidence-building course is a class in public speaking or drama – someplace where you’ll learn to speak in front of others and present your ideas to other people.  You’ll be forced to dig deep and discover plus present talents and strengths you never knew you possessed! Think and decide, but remember, doing something, getting out there among people and being yourself all the time is indispensably better than playing meek. An online course is ideal to achieve this. 

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Gemma Creagh

The Top 5 Challenges Posed by Online Courses (And How to Overcome Them)


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