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More than often, people find it very difficult to say "yes" to what they do want, but find it even more difficult to say "no" to what they do not want.
I hope the following will help you to achieve just that: to be able to stand up for your rights.
It is called "assertiveness". Assertiveness is an attitude and a way of acting in any situation where you need to:
Express your feelings
Ask for what you want, or Say no to something you don't want
In order to be assertive, you may need to improve your self-esteem. You also may experience higher anxiety levels or depression. If this is the case, it may be useful to consult with a psychologist.
Alternative behaviour styles
Assertiveness is a way of acting that strikes a balance between two extremes:
aggressiveness and submissiveness.
Non-assertive or submissive behaviour involves yielding you into someone else's preferences while discounting your own rights and needs. You don't express your feelings or let others know what you want. The result is that they remain ignorant of your feelings or wants.
Aggressive behaviour may involve communicating in a demanding, abrasive and even hostile way with others.
Assertive behaviour involves asking for what you want (or saying no) in a simple, direct fashion that does not negate, attack or manipulate anyone else. You communicate your feelings and needs honestly and directly while maintaining respect and consideration for others. You stand up for yourself and your rights without apologising or feeling guilty. In essence, assertiveness involves taking responsibility for your own needs met in a way that preserves the dignity of other people. Others feel comfortable when you are assertive because they know where you stand. They respect you for your honesty and forthrightness.
Before you can be assertive
Before you can be assertive, it is necessary to keep certain ideas in mind.
1.You have basic rights
As adult human beings we all have basic rights. Developing assertiveness involves recognising that you, just as much as anyone else, have a right to all the things listed under the personal bill of rights.
Personal Bill of Rights
1. I have the right to ask for what I want.
2. I have the right to say no to requests or demands I can't meet.
3. I have the right to express all of my feelings, positive or negative.
4. I have the right to change my mind.
5. I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
6. I have the right to follow my own values or standards.
7. I have the right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, if it is unsafe, or it violates my values.
8. I have the right to determine my own priorities.
9. I have the right not to be responsible for others' behaviour, actions, feelings or problems.
10. I have the right to expect honesty from others.
11. I have the right to be angry at someone I love.
12. I have the right to be uniquely myself.
13. I have the right to feel scared and say: "I'm afraid".
14. I have the right to say: "I don't know".
15. I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behaviour.
16. I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.
17. I have the right to my own needs for personal space and time.
18. I have the right to be playful and frivolous.
19. I have the right to be healthy.
20. I have the right to be in a nonabusive environment.
21. I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
22. I have the right to change and grow.
23. I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.
24. I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
25. I have the right to be happy.
26. I have the right to say no without feeling guilty.
Photocopy the above list and place it in a conspicuous place. By taking time to carefully read through this every day, you will eventually learn to accept that you are entitled to each one of the rights enumerated.
2.Control your thinking
We are often too scared to say "no" or to ask for what we want, because of certain fears. These fears are "irrational" fears; in other words they are imagined and not real fears. Eight patterns of these limited thinking were identified, namely:
This is a tunnel vision. You are looking at only one element of a situation and excluding anything else – and you focus only on the negative element. Depressed people are hypersensitive to loss and blind to gain. Anxious people see only danger. Angry people see only evidence of injustice and screens out fairness and equity.
This is black-and-white thinking, with no shades of gray allowed. People and things are all good or all bad. Normally when things are not all good, they are all bad.
The greatest danger in polarised thinking is its impact on how you judge yourself. If you are not perfect or brilliant, then you must be a failure or an imbecile. There is no room for mistakes or mediocrity.
You make broad, general conclusions based on a single incident or piece of evidence. One bad experience means that whenever you are in a similar situation you will repeat the bad experience.
Some of the cue words in overgeneralisation are: "all, every, none, never, always, everybody and nobody". For Example: "I will never be able to do this." "I will never be able to say no."
Overgeneralisation ignores all contrary evidence, making your view of the world stereotyped and one-dimensional.
For example: "I was hurt by a man, therefore all men hurt." " I never do anything right." Ask yourself: "Have I ever done anything right?" Yes, of course.
You assume you know how others are feeling and what motivates them. Mind reading makes one conclusion seem so obviously correct that you assume it is true. As a mind reader, you also make assumptions about how people are reacting to you – and it is always negative. "I know that you don't like me".
If you catastrophise, a small leak in the sailboat means it will surely sink. A headache suggests that a brain cancer is looming. If a guy turns you down, it will be too bad.
Catastrophic thoughts often start with the words: "What if?"
Ask yourself: "What is the worst thing that can happen?"; "How bad is it anyway?"; "What are the chances of it actually occurring?" (Since most of the things we worry about never happen anyway).
You emphasise things out of proportion to their actual importance. Small mistakes become tragic failures. Minor setbacks become causes of despair. Slightest obstacles become overwhelming barriers.
Words like "huge", "impossible", and "overwhelming" are magnifying terms. This pattern creates a tone of doom and hysterical pessimism.
There are two kinds of personalisation:
1.The first kind involves directly comparing yourself with other people – and you always lose.
2.The second kind is the tendency to relate everything around you to yourself. E.g. a depressed mother blames herself when she sees any sadness in her children.
You have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people, should act. People who break the rules anger you, and you feel guilty when you violate the rules.
You use the word "should" often.
In order to be assertive and to ask of what you do want and to say no for what you don't want, you can follow the following steps.
Evaluate your rights within the situation at hand.
Refer back to your Personal Bill of Rights. What are your rights in this situation? Why can you ask for something you want and say no to something you don't want?
Make sure your thinking is rational.
Refer back to the 8 patterns of irrational thinking.
Designate a time for discussing what you want.
Find a mutually convenient time to discuss the problem with the other person involved. Don't discuss these matters when someone is busy with something else. Tell the other person: "I want to discuss something with you. When will it suit you?" It is a good idea to sit opposite one another at a table for instance.
Keep your tone of voice:
When you scream and shout, you will only evoke the same behaviour in the other person. And a screaming match never solved anything. When you scream and shout – you activate the other person's "fight-or-flight" reaction. You get a heightened rush of adrenaline. This evokes feelings of fighting or running away. All rationality is then lost. When you speak in a relaxed way, the other person will tend to listen and take you more seriously, and they will react accordingly.Take time-out
When you start to feel angry, realise it is not going to solve anything. Take time-out and discharge your feelings. You may go outside and shout to get rid of your emotions, or you may take your pillow and imagine it is the other person's face and hit him/her. It is important to discharge your feelings before you re-engage in conversation again.
Express your feelings about the particular situation.
By telling other people about your feelings, you let them know how greatly their behaviour affects you and your reactions.
In expressing feelings, always be sure to own your reactions rather than blaming them on someone else. The best way is by always remembering to begin your statements about your feelings with "I" rather the "You". "I – statements" acknowledge your responsibility for your feelings, while "You – statements" generally accuse or judge other, putting them on the defensive and obstructing communication. Begin a sentence with: "I feel this or that" instead of saying: "You make me angry".
Make your request for changing the situation.
This is the key step to being assertive. You simply ask for what you want (or don't want) in a direct, straightforward manner.
Use assertive non-verbal behaviour
-Look directly at a person when addressing them
-Keep an open body posture
-Don't back off or move too close to the person.
Keep your request simple
Stay calm. When you feel angry or excited, take time out and discharge your emotions somewhere else before you engage in the conversation again.
Avoid asking for more than one thing at a time. This may create confusion, anger and irritation in the other person involved.
Be specific – ask for exactly what you want.
Use I-statements such as:
-"I would like…"
-"I want to…"
-"I would appreciate it if…"
Object to behaviour, not to personalities – let them know you are having a problem with something they are doing (or not doing), not with who they are as a person.
Don't apologise for your request.
Make requests, not demands or commands.
Tell the person the consequences of gaining (or not gaining) his or her co-operation.
With close friends or intimate partners, stating positive consequences of their compliance with your request can be an honest offer of give-and-take rather than manipulation.
Learning to say no
An important aspect of being assertive is your ability to say "no" to requests that you don't want to meet. Saying no means that you set limits on other people's demands for your time and energy when such demands conflict with your own needs and desires. It also means that you can do this without feeling guilty.
In some cases, especially if you're dealing with someone with whom you don't want to promote a relationship, just saying "No, thank you", or "No, I'm not interested" in a firm, polite manner should suffice. If the other person persists, just repeat your statement calmly without apologising. You may have to use the broken record technique. Remember the days of records? What happened when a record got stuck…got stuck…got stuck…got stuck? You just repeat your "No I'm not interested" over and over again in the same words and the same tone of voice. Normally people will stop after the third attempt. And remember, you don't have to give any explanations, let your no be your no. If you need to make your statement stronger and more empathic, you may want to:
1. Look the person directly in the eyes,
2. Raise the level of your voice slightly, and
3. Assert your position: "I said - no thank you".
In many other instances – with acquaintances, friends, and family – you may want to give the other person some explanation for turning down their request. Here it's often useful to follow a three-step procedure:
1. Acknowledge the other person's request by repeating it.
2. Explain your reason for declining.
3. Say no.
4. (Optional). If appropriate, suggest an alternative proposal where both your and the other person's needs will be met.
Use Step 4 only if you can easily see a way for both you and the other person to meet each other halfway.
Optional: The 3 perceptual positions
This is an example of what is sometimes referred to as the New Code NLP. The strategy, originating from John Grinder and Judith De Lozier, is a way of taking different perceptual positions on a situation in order to find a balance in how we go forward to a solution. This strategy is sometimes called perceptual positions. This strategy was a big breakthrough in communication.
There are three primary positions:
1.Own shoes (1st position)
This is when we stand in our own shoes. It is when we see things from our own perspective. When we take the 1st position we are able to fully appreciate what is important to us personally. To do this, we need to see, hear, and feel the situation from our own perspective. Here we think what is important to me, what I really want. We use language such as: "I feel", "I want", "I hear", "I see". We tap into the truth of our own perspectives. This allows us to know what we really want, and what we experience.
2.Their shoes (2nd position)
This is where we are trying to put ourselves in the other person's shoes. We see things from their perspective. When we put ourselves in the 2nd position we are able to understand where the other person is coming from and what has to be true for them. It is different to put yourself in the other person's shoes. By putting ourselves in the other person's shoes we experience the situation as if we are them. We are able to imagine how it is to look out of their eyes and hear out of their ears and be in their body.
When you are fully in the other person's shoes and have their perspective on the situation, you are able to understand their idea of the world. For other people, their reaction is perfectly understandable.
3.Observer (3rd position)
This is the ability to stand back from a situation and experience it as if you are a detached observer (a fly against the wall). In your mind you are quite disassociated and are able to see and hear yourself and the other person as if you were a fly on the wall. You are unlikely to have emotions, because of this disassociated state.
This is a position of analysis and learning. This is the only position where you can do analysis. This is the position where you can get the bigger picture. It is here that you can gain insights about the other person. It is here where you can identify of how you can change to make a difference.
Excessive use of the 1st position:
• Can lead to the lack of understanding of others,
• Can lead to aggression,
• Can lead to dismissal of other people's ideas and feelings.
Excessive use of the 2nd position:
• Can lead to loss of self-esteem,
• Can lead to submissiveness,
• Can lead to ignoring your own ideas and feelings.
Excessive use of the 3rd position:
• Can create an image of being unemotional.
The ability to use all three positions in a balanced way lead to cooperative, assertive behaviour and increased choice and understanding.
When should you use each position?
The 1st position is good to adopt:
• When you stand up for yourself,
• To see things from your perspective,
• To get in touch with your own feelings.
Developing your ability to experience the 1st position can be a way for moving from non-assertive to assertive behaviour.
The 2nd position is a way to get to the intention of behaviour, and into the experience and feelings of others. When you do this (an excellent form of pacing) the other person will get a feeling of reassurance that you understand his/her position. More especially, it will give you greater understanding and therefore choice about how to deal with the situation.
The 3rd position can be valuable
When you want to stand back, take stock, and think objectively about a situation.
When we don't want to be emotional.
In the 3rd position, you will not experience the feelings of anger, frustration or hurt that you might be feeling in the 1st position.
Think about a recent argument or misunderstanding.
You may also future pace a conversation/discussion to follow.
1. Put yourself in your shoes and identify:
What you are seeing,
2. Put yourself in the shoes of the other person and identify:
What they are seeing (as if you are them),
What they are hearing,
What they are feeling?
3. Put yourself in the shoes of an outsider so that you can see yourself and the other person from a distance and ask yourself:
What are you hearing and seeing.
How are these two people maintaining a perfect system by being the way they are being and doing what they are doing.
What is it, that the more of that you do, the more the other person out there does.
What is, for you, the positive intention behind what is happening?
4. Go back into your own shoes with this balanced thinking about the situation.
How does that feel.
How might you now go forward in this situation?